Sneven Best The Politics of Historical Vision: Marx, Foucault, Habermas





Communicative rationality operates in history as an avenging force.

—HABERMAS (1982:227)

Like Foucault, Habermas began his career within Marxism but eventually broke with Marxist assumptions to develop a new theory of society and history. In both cases, this move was motivated by internal and external, logical and historical, concerns. In terms of its inherent theoretical deficiencies, Foucault and Habermas believe Marx's work is reductionistic in its monological focus on material production. Each, consequently, attempts to escape the economistic heritage of Marxism and to rethink history, society, and the subject within a new conceptual framework.1

In order to do this, each theorist draws on the resources of the "linguistic turn" in philosophy and social theory, the transcontinental product of Anglo-American philosophy and European semiotics and structuralism, which rethinks the traditional problems of consciousness as problems of language. For Marx, language had only derivitive meaning in relation to the primacy of productive activity.2 Both Foucault and Habermas consider knowledge, discourse, and communication to be irreducible to the determination of labor and social classes; both, subsequently, reject Marx's base-superstructure model. As argued by Honneth (1991), each breaks with the productivist concept of action developed by Marx and extended by Adorno and Horkheimer to open up a new domain of social action irreducible to the domination of nature; at the same time, they take this turn in opposing directions.

For Foucault, discourse analysis provides the tools for the study of different systems of knowledge and how these form the epistemic spaces in which individuals think, act, and speak. For Habermas, language is the key historical factor that separates humans from animals and is a fundamental medium for the production and reproduction of intersubjective life. Like Foucault, Habermas seeks to identify the anonymous rules that condition language and thought, but for Habermas these are rules of communicative competence that entail an active subject and have a crucial normative import. With Mead, Habermas sees action primarily as a process of communication and intersubjective understanding and defines societies as "networks of communicative action." He reworks the traditional Marxist theory of action, which focuses on the human transformation of nature, to include the processes of intersubjective understanding. Unlike Foucault, who regarded language and interaction primarily in terms of domination, Habermas sees them as the means of attaining a freely constituted social consensus. A central aspect of his project is to analyze the implicit and explicit nature of basic human competence required for such communication. Habermas does not, however, analyze language as a transparent medium; making the critique of ideology central to his version of critical theory, he redefines ideology as distorted communication rather than false consciousness. He also claims that in language one finds an innate human interest in emancipation, and so language provides the basis for the normative grounding of critique that he claims Marx and Foucault wrongly failed to provide.

Foucault and Habermas also think that Marxian theory needs to be rethought because of the significant historical changes since Marx's time. Where Foucault advances a new analysis of disciplinary power and marks the beginning of a new posthumanist, postmodern era, Habermas theorizes the historical shifts toward a postliberal, "late capitalism," in which the mechanisms of power, domination, and resistance have changed fundamentally since Marx's time. Like many theorists since Eduard Bernstein, Habermas attempts to respond to Marx's failed predictions that capitalism would fall due to its own internal contradictions, its technological development, and the formation of a revolutionary proletariat. Following Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, and other Frankfurt School theorists, Habermas analyzes how capitalism has been able to regulate the market economy, control its crisis tendencies, and manage human consciousness through cultural means. Against the thesis of a one-dimensional or totally administered society, however, Habermas claims that capitalism continues to be vulnerable to economic crisis and has generated new crisis tendencies that relate to problems in securing loyalty and motivation.

According to Habermas, competitive capitalism has given way to monopolistic capitalism, where the state has assumed an enormously expanded role, with its primary function being to intervene in the economy, control its crisis tendencies, and supply rewards to the working class. With the repoliticization of the economy-state relation in the political administration of the economy, Marx's base-superstructure model loses whatever validity it once had; the ideology of advanced capitalism is no longer directly an economic matter derived from the exchange of "equivalents" in the market. Morever, Habermas claims with Foucault that new forms of power and resistance have emerged that are structured around issues of cultural and psychological identity rather than exploitation, and hence that the sources of power and political change no longer revolve around class struggle and the critique of political economy.

Furthermore, developments in late capitalism have called into question the validity of the labor theory of value and have thoroughly problematized the relationship between technological progress and social emancipation. With the transformation of science and technology into the leading productive forces of society, surplus value is no longer generated solely from exploitation, and the rate of profit tends to increase rather than decline. Science and technology have also become key sources of ideology. The development of science and technology, defined as the main criterion of social progress, is seen to proceed according to neutral, objective laws or is accepted as the sole concern of experts. This is the ideological basis of a technocratic society that resolves ethical and political questions into merely technical issues of system management and that dissociates technical knowledge from public discussion and control. Because of Marx's uncritical embrace of the growth of science and technology, as a process deemed to have inherently progressive and democratic tendencies, Habermas claims that his work has become an unwitting support of technocratic ideology.

Hence, both Foucault and Habermas use the kind of historical consciousness that Marx tried to promote against capitalist ideology in order to undermine the validity of Marxism itself, and to claim that the objective conditions sustaining Marxian theory and politics have undergone massive changes. These changes have put Marxism, not capitalism, into crisis and require extensive rethinking of radical theory and politics.

Both Foucault and Habermas, however, approach their reconstructive projects from entirely different theoretical orientations, each grounded in the intellectual traditions of his own country. Where Foucault's work emerges primarily through contact with French literature and philosophy of science, Habermas' work is influenced principally by Marx, Weber, the Frankfurt School, and more contemporary German thinkers such as Luhmann, Offe and Apel.3 Despite these different traditions, the work of Foucault and Habermas—following a trajectory that leads from Nietzsche to Weber to Lukacs through Horkheimer and Adorno and Marcuse— converges around a critique of instrumental rationality and an analysis of the growing technological control of life processes. The cri tique of instrumental reason that is central to the Frankfurt School and Habermas has obvious parallels with Foucault's critique of disciplinary power and his linkage of power to knowledge. But Habermas sees the critiques of the Frankfurt School and Foucault as too one-sided, as conflating different forms of rationality into one oppressive force that allegedly has colonized all of society.

For Habermas, the problem with modernity is not one of too much rationality, but of too little rationality. More precisely, in the modern world we find the hegemony of instrumental rationality, which seeks a technical mastery of nature and society over a communicative rationality that raises different validity claims requiring redemption under conditions of argumentation while seeking consensus over issues of social regulation. Habermas agrees with Weber, Horkheimer and Adorno, and Foucault that Enlightenment and capitalism produced domination instead of liberation, but he insists that there are also positive aspects of rationality and liberalism that still exist and can be further developed toward emancipatory ends. Habermas thereby breaks with the pessimistic tradition of social theory that stretches from Nietzsche through the Frankfurt School to postmodern theory, declaring modernity to be an "unfinished project."

Where Foucault develops postmodern alternatives to classical positions in modern philosophy, social theory, and historiography, Habermas attempts to reconstruct modern theory, while renouncing postmodern discourse as a counter-Enlightenment ideology injurious to the project of social critique and change. As Foucault wants to warn us of the "dangers of rationality" Habermas alerts us to the dangers of irrationality. For Habermas, postmodern theory is one of "the many symptoms of the destruction of practical reason" that involves a "retreat from universalistic demands, claims to autonomy, and expectations of authenticity" (1975: 124). All of these elements represent important advances in rationality that are wrongly jettisoned. Since Habermas accepts neither Marxism nor postmodern theory, he provides a significant foil to both Marx and Foucault and, more generally, to classical modern and postmodern theory. Habermas attempts a reconstruction of Marxism and critical theory without abandoning the emancipatory impulse of Marxism, the Hegelianinspired theory of social evolution, and the Frankfurt School critique of instrumental reason. In his attempt to legitimate key modern values, particularly Enlightenment concerns with freedom, autonomy, democracy, critique, and the search for universal values and normative foundations, Habermas takes up arms against the relativistic positions embraced by Foucault and postmodern theory.

With Marx and against Foucault, Habermas has a Hegelian vision of history as fundamentally progressive in nature, as having definite developmental tendencies that lead toward a state of human freedom through a process of differentiation. For Habermas, differentiation involves the same technological, economic, and political dynamics that Marx analyzes, but Habermas also analyzes the differentiation of moral and practical consciousness, as a result of an evolutionary process, whereby objective, social, and subjective worlds are clearly delineated in addition to different logics of critique. This differentiation process leads to a state where cultural traditions, social systems, and value claims require rational justification in light of universal interests. Against Foucault's Nietzschean vision of history as a random succession of modes of power, Habermas, with Marx, constructs a metanarrative that charts the emergence of objective and subjective preconditions for human freedom that can be appropriated in a practical context.

At stake in this chapter is the validity of Habermas' critique of both Marx and Foucault, how well Habermas defends key Enlightenment and modern concepts as well as their postmodern repudiation, and whether or not he successfully achieves the goals of his project. Seeking normative foundations without conventional foundationalism, a universalistic perspective that has historical dimensions, a defense of Enlightenment reason without apologetics for scientism and technical domination, a critique of reification that does not succumb to neoconservatism, and an intersubjective theory of agency divorced from humanism, Habermas stakes out a middle ground between the essentialist formulations of the modern philosophical and sociological tradition and the radically deconstructive and relativistic aspects of postmodern theory. Where theorists such as Poster try to synthesize Marxian and Foucauldian positions, Habermas rejects both positions and claims that each theory is bound to the philosophy of consciousness and the subjectivist logic of the modern era. For Habermas, this means that neither Marx nor Foucault can analyze communicative rationality and employ the resources of this analysis to provide a philosophical foundation for critical theory, While Habermas develops important critiques of Marx and Foucault, I argue that he misreads each figure and wrongly tries to surpass or deny their core insights that must continue to inform contemporary theory, and that illuminate key problems in his own positions.


A scientized society could constitute itself as a rational one only to the extent that science and technology are mediated with the conduct of life through the minds of its citizens.

—HABERMAS (1970:80)

Although Habermas has produced a complex, prolific body of work that has undergone a number of changes, he has pursued some constant, fun damental themes. At all times, Habermas is concerned with upholding the Enlightenment values of freedom, democracy, individuality, autonomy, criticism, and rationality; with analyzing their interconnections; with understanding how they have been threatened by developments within modernity; and with demonstrating how these values can be anchored in actual social institutions through advancing existing forms of "communicative action." The rationality that informs such action is based on raising and evaluating validity claims within an intersubjective context oriented toward achieving rational consensus over social values and policies. Like Marx and Foucault, Habermas embarks on a genealogy of modernity and believes that historical analysis is essential for a critical social theory and an oppositional politics. Where Marx is concerned primarily with the technical and economic bases of human evolution, and Foucault with the historical development of technologies of domination, Habermas focuses on the evolution of communicative rationality, on the moral-practical learning processes whereby human agents acquire skills in communication, debate, and evaluation.

Habermas' first major work, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1989a, orig. 1962), was a genealogy of the rise and decline of the public sphere in capitalist society. Habermas described the formation of literary societies in early bourgeois society where private individuals would meet in cafes, reading societies, lecture halls, and other public places, while creating numerous journals and newspapers, in order to engage in rational-critical debate. The existence of this vital public sphere began to decline, however, with the development of capitalism. The institutions of the public sphere were no longer focused on the criticism of political domination through the use of public reason, but rather became a means to manipulate individuals. The authentic public sphere in the world of letters was replaced by the psuedo-public world of consumer culture constituted by advertising and electronic media. These institutions worked to depoliticize and fragment individuals, robbing them of their potential for communicative rationality through propaganda and a barrage of images and symbols intended to substitute consumer behavior for critical thought.

Hence, unlike Foucault, Habermas sees media and advertising as key sources of power and control that distort communication and create a politics based on spectacle rather than active participation. Mass media isolate individuals into privatized modes of behavior, and create a "de-realized" public sphere.4 On this point, Habermas' analysis has some affinities with Adorno and Horkheimer's critique of the culture industries (1972) and Baudrillard's analysis of hyperreality and the implosion of meaning in mass media (1983a, 1983b). Unlike Baudrillard, however, Habermas never relinquishes faith in the ability of individuals to regain the basic communicative competencies that inform their speech. Implicit in Habermas' largely descriptive analysis, explicitly brought out later, is a political vision of a revitalized public sphere where individuals assemble to debate political issues, to form and exercise a political will, to criticize social policy and developments, and to exert democratic control over the social conditions of their existence. Already, the key theme of Habermas' entire oeuvre is readily visible: democracy requires domination-free conditions of communication. The Habermasian political vision is one of an unconstrained public sphere where individuals unite in rational debate to achieve a democratic consensus about how society should be governed.5

While Foucault largely equated rationalization with domination, Habermas points to a positive aspect of modern rationalization whereby— unlike the dogmatic nature of premodern worldviews organized around myth and religion—critical norms emerge that allow for debate and critique and require rational legitimation of political power. Habermas is not unaware of the difficulties of forging a rational consensus in the face of two formidable obstacles, domination and social plurality, but he asserts that such consensus and the universal values it presupposes nevertheless can be attained (1989a:234). On this count, as we will see, Habermas opposes the postmodern emphasis on the incommensurability of values, instead seeking a way to organize the cacophany of competing voices into a rational consensus, without lapsing into a repressive Comtean fetish of social order.

The analysis of the spread of communicative rationality into modern society as the result of historical developments would become Habermas' idee fixe in subsequent works. In Toward a Rational Society (1970, orig. 1968), Habermas analyzes the relationship between technology and democracy. Opposed to the separation between technical development and the social realm (an opposition he later terms "system" and "lifeworld"), he argues for the need to bring technical processes under conscious control and relate them to social needs. In capitalist society technology develops in alienated form, over and against human needs; Habermas believes it is imperative to subordinate technology to human needs, to the realm of "the communication of acting men" (1970:56). He rejects the autonomous technology thesis as a mystification that occludes the fact that technological development is the result of conscious policy plans determined by capitalist and bureaucratic interests. In contemporary capitalist society, Habermas recognizes that the political will of depoliticized citizens is limited to a ritualistic acclamation of predetermined policies and goals. Democratic decision making is reduced to the formal appointment of elite rulers, while the important decisions of social organization are already made. Unlike ancient society—in which politics was indissociable from ethics, visions of the good life were promoted, and phronesis (practical wisdom) was distinguished from science—modern politics abandons all normative concerns, adopts the strictly negative goal of ensuring social order, and tries to establish practical rationality on a scientific basis to be organized by elites. Under the hegemony of positivism, moral and political issues are resolved into merely technical questions of efficient social organization.

According to Habermas, the technical development of societies has long proceeded apart from continuity with natural history and mere adaption to the environment, but it has not yet been rationally and democratically governed:

Through the unplanned sociocultural consequences of technological progress, the human species has challenged itself to learn not merely to affect its social destiny, but to control it. This challenge of technology cannot be met with technology alone. It is rather a question of setting into motion a politically effective discussion that rationality brings the social potential constituted by technical knowledge and ability into a defined and controlled relation to our practical knowledge and will. (1970:61)

By reference to common human needs, people could judge rationally "the direction and the extent to which they want to develop technical knowledge for the future" (61).

Thus, technical progress would not just be the result of the whims of specialists, but would be mediated through the conduct of social life. Scientific knowledge and practical concerns must interpenetrate and inform one another in a process where technical knowledge is employed to enhance human life. The construction of social policy concerning issues of economic planning and use of technology requires prior reflection of needs and values, and a discourse on the nature of human emancipation. The articulation of these needs and values, the enlightenment of the political will, requires hermeneutic self-understanding and public debate. It involves the recuperation of a practical rationality that raises and redeems validity claims, against the hegemony of a technical rationality that brackets value claims to seek only the instrumental control of society. But the clarification process needed for democracy "could be guaranteed only by the ideal conditions of general communication extending to the entire public and free from domination" (1970:75). Thus, the existence of an authentic public sphere where citizens can determine social policy requires conditions of uninhibited, noncoerced, nonmanipulated discourse—what Habermas analyzes as the "ideal speech situation." Yet Habermas posits domination-free discourse as a normative ideal to strive for and he understands that under the best conditions this ideal may never be achieved.

In Toward A Rational Society, Habermas first posits his most distinctive —and most problematic—claim: that there is an inherent human interest in emancipation, in "the creation of communication without domination" (1970:113). This appeal to autonomy as an a priori interest is fleshed out more fully in Knowledge and Human Interests (1971, orig. 1968). Whereas positivist forms of philosophy and science adhere to the "objectivist" belief in a pure knowledge untainted by theoretical presuppositions or external motivations and interests, Habermas argues that the construction of knowledge is indissociable from various human interests that serve as motives for action. He advances a hermeneutic and materialist claim that all cognitive processes are rooted in prescientific forms of experience, in "life structures" determined by distinct kinds of interests.

Habermas identifies three forms of human interest: a technical interest in controling objective processes, a communicative interest in forming an intersubjective world through linguistic symbols, and an emancipatory interest in becoming self-reflective, self-determining, and mature (Mundigkeit). Each interest informs a different human science. Hence, the "empirical-analytic" sciences are conditioned by an interest in technical control of external processes, and the "historical-hermeneutic" sciences are guided by an interest in consensus among actors within a shared linguistic tradition; in contrast, the "critical sciences," to which critical theory itself belongs, are determined by an interest in emancipating human beings from domination.

The idea that reason has an inherent interest in its own emancipation through self-reflection was first developed by Fichte who claimed that the ego seeks to become transparent to itself in the act of reflection.6 For Habermas, this interest is the a priori of all ordinary linguistic acts and is thus reflected in language: "The human interest in autonomy and responsibility is not mere fancy, for it can be apprehended a priori. What raises us out of nature is the only thing whose nature we can know: language. Through its structure, autonomy and responsibility are posited for us. Our first sentence expresses unequivocally the intention of universal and unconstrained consensus" (1971:314). Ordinary speech has an implicit telos that aims at clear, rational communication and the attainment of consensus. In his theory of "universal pragmatics," Habermas attempts a "rational reconstruction" of the universal "validity claims" inherent in ordinary speech. "We can reconstruct the normative content of possible understanding by stating which universal presuppositions have to be met for understanding to be achieved in an actual case" (Habermas 1982:83). As Kant sought to uncover the preconditions of experience through analysis of the a priori structures of sense and cognition, Habermas seeks to reconstruct the "general and unavoidable" presuppositions of achieving understanding in language.

For Habermas, all individuals have an implicit knowledge of com munication, whether or not they can give an explicit account of the structures and rules underlying their performances. This know-how belongs not simply to a particular group, culture, or historical period, but is a universal "species competence." In the midst of a strongly relativistic and nihilistic culture, Habermas advances "an outrageously strong claim. that there is a universal core of moral intuition in all times and in all societies" (1986:206). According to Habermas' reconstruction, any speech act raises general validity claims that relate to "the comprehensibility of the utterance, the truth of its propositional component, the correctness and appropriateness of its performatory component, and the authenticity of the speaking subject" (1973:18). Comprehensibility, truth, rightness, and sincerity are therefore the a priori norms of all communication, if only implicitly understood as such. Agreement is achieved through the implicit or explicit recognition of the validity of these claims. In all agreement, we find "a never silent although seldom redeemed claim to reason" (Habermas 1979:97).

Thus, like Kant, Habermas relies on appeal to an a priori category to ground objective analysis, but this grounding relates to an inherent, prerational human interest rather than to categories of understanding. In the sense that these are universal and necessary presuppositions, and not relative to any one actor, culture, or historical era, Habermas terms them "transcendental" (pre)conditions of understanding or communication. But with Foucault and against Kant, Habermas claims that the presuppositions of (communicative) experience are historically shaped, and hence he initially describes human interests as "quasi-transcendental." These interests both emerge out of the laboring and communicative conditions of social existence and they also condition human knowledge and experience, thereby possessing a "doublet" nature that is suspect in the eyes of Foucault and has drawn much criticism (see below).

Because they have a universal, necessary, and a priori character, because they point to a basic human interest in emancipation, because they clarify what authentic communication is, and because reason and communication require adequate institutional settings, Habermas believes that the presuppositions of ordinary communication, as clarified in the ideal speech situation, provide the needed foundation for normative critique of undemocratic societies. The very nature of language and communication, in other words, has a normative thrust that needs to be unpacked and defended: "To this extent the truth of statements is based on anticipating the realization of the good life" (Habermas 1971:314). By appealing to "the inherent telos of human speech" that seeks understanding and emancipation and that requires conditions of freedom and equality, Habermas thinks he can provide the noncontingent normative grounding for critique that Marx, the Frankfurt School, and Foucault did not and could not pro vide. Because Habermas emphasizes that the realization of the emancipatory impulse inherent in language presupposes conditions of unconstrained, undistorted communication, a key task of his social theory is to analyze distorted conditions of communication within capitalist society, to further the development of critical consciousness, and to help begin a movement that can deepen civic participation and democratize social institutions. In contradistinction to corrupted communication forms in capitalist society, Habermas employs the norm of the ideal speech situation, whereby communication and the redemption of validity claims can take place without distorting influences and the mediation of social hierarchy and power, as a counterfactual condition to guide his vision of social progress.


A theory of social evolution, although it must be the foundation

of social theory, is today still scarcely at all developed.

—HABERMAS (1979:126)

Paradoxically, the positing of an a priori human interest in emancipation stimulates Habermas to further historical work, beyond the beginnings of the modern public sphere toward an evolutionary theory of the emergence of the human species itself. Habermas materialistically transposes Fichte's idea of the need for the ego to become transparent to itself into the idea of the human species reflecting on its own historical self-formation. The analysis of the human interest in emancipation, Habermas believes, requires a reconstruction of the conditions that lead to the possible emergence of human freedom and the conditions that thwart its realization. As I discuss below, Habermas' evolutionary theory involves a substantive critique of the Marxian narrative of history and a bold challenge to the postmodern rejection of metanarratives.

Since societies are not static, Habermas agrees with Marx and Foucault that a synchronic analysis of any social structure must be situated within the diachronic context of a larger historical process. Unlike Foucault, however, Marx and Habermas seek to grasp the historical conditions of emergence and the developmental tendencies of a given society. Since Habermas situates this analysis within the context of critical theory, the ultimate goal of a theory of social evolution is a diagnostic analysis of the present, with the practical intent of distinguishing between the positive and negative aspects of social rationalization in order to advance the former and contain the latter. The theories of social evolution and modernity require one another: a theory of social evolution is employed to contextualize modernity historically, and a theory of modernity is necessary to understand the developmental tendencies of social evolution. A theory of social evolution has immediate practical relavance insofar as it allows a historical diagnosis of developmental problems with a view toward resolving them in a future social situation. Surveying various contributions from the quarters of historical materialism, behavioralism, cognitive psychology, functionalist systems theory, hermeneutics, and social action theory, Habermas believes that no adequate theory of social evolution yet exists and so a major task of his work is to construct such a theory. Yet Marx's theory of history forms a key component of Habermas' account and it is on Habermas' differences with Marx's theory that I focus.

As noted in Rockmore's detailed account (1989), Habermas' analysis of Marx and Marxism is developed throughout numerous articles and books and over a period of three decades. It has evolved through various stages of development that Rockmore (1987) identifies as interpretation, critique, reconstruction, and abandonment. This development reflects the changes in Habermas' attitude from initial enthusiasm for historical materialism, to a more critical awareness of fundamental problems within Marxian theory, to an attempt to remedy these problems, and finally to a belief that the theory is inherently flawed and needs to be superseded in favor of Habermas' own theory of communication. In the process of reading Marx's work, Habermas develops various accounts of what kind of theory it is, emphasizing its status as philosophy, philosophical anthropology, empirically falsifiable theory of history, economic theory, social theory, and a theory of social evolution.

In Communication and the Evolution of Society, Habermas understands historical materialism not simply as Engels characterizes it, that is, as a heuristic method for the analysis of society, but rather primarily as a theory of social evolution, of the development of the human species as a result of its dynamic interaction with its natural environment. Habermas therefore emphasizes the diachronic and philosophico-historical aspects of historical materialism over its status as an economic theory. Habermas initially sees historical materialism as "a theory that needs revision in many respects but whose potential for stimulation has still not been exhausted" (1979:95). Thus, rather than rejecting historical materialism, Habermas initially works to reconstruct it, to develop its critical resources in a more adequate fashion than did Marx himself. Habermas believes that Marx was unable to develop the critical potential of historical materialism because of the reductionistic nature of the work paradigm (see below).

Historical materialism must be redefined within a communicative framework informed by a Kantian epistemology that identifies universal foundations for critique. With Hegel and Marx, Habermas constructs a metanarrative that grasps the movement of freedom in history through the movement of alienation and differentiation. Following Marx, Habermas rejects Hegel's idealistic and deterministic interpretation of history that reduces human agency to a mere vehicle for the self-actualization of Reason. Both Marx and Habermas see history as a human product whereby human beings dynamically transform themselves as they transform their environment. Habermas agrees with Marx that while history is an active human creation, it has been created under alienated conditions and largely behind the backs of human actors, not subject to their conscious understanding and control. With Marx, Habermas rejects unilinear and determinist narratives that understand history as the progressive, uninterrupted realization of an inherent logic.7

Yet, like Marx and unlike Foucault, Habermas nevertheless holds that there is a discernible order and progressive learning movement in history that he tries to grasp through rational reconstruction. Habermas' theory of social evolution allows for contingency, discontinuity, and regressive developments in history, but he insists one can still identify a developmental process that leads in the direction of human emancipation (1976). For Habermas, "evolution" refers to "cumulative processes that exhibit a direction" (1979:141). As with Marx, this direction can be analyzed in terms of a growing differentiation and complexity of social systems and forms of individuality, able to be periodized according to distinct stages of development that represent advances in a developmental logic, and that culminate in conditions that allow for human freedom and autonomy. Marx analyzes history primarily as the development of the productive forces, the division of social labor, and technical rationality; Habermas sees it mainly as the development of normative structures, moral and legal worldviews, identity formations, and communicative competencies. The contrast in their perspectives represents the differences between the paradigms of production and communication.

Through a focus on communication rather than production, Habermas rejects what Marx takes to be the fundamental criterion of the specifically human. According to Marx and Engels, "Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organisation" (1978:150). Habermas notes that hominids, not just humans, reproduced their existence through social production involving rules for instrumental and communicative action (1979:134). Since both labor and language predate the emergence of the human species, specifically human forms of social production begin only with the emergence of a family structure that employs role systems organized around intersubjective recognition of behavioral norms, and therefore that incorporates morality into action motivations. Human beings reorganize animal behavior according to imperatives based on morality and validity claims. Marx understands language only as a mode of socialization whose basic dynamics involve material production. Habermas, however, wants to separate language from labor, to grant far more importance to the role of language in social integration, and to argue that language, with labor, forms the basis of social evolution.

Hence, Habermas substitutes a bidimensional for a unidimensional theory of evolution; both production and socialization are equally crucial for the reproduction of the human species.8 These two dimensions relate to the fundamental conceptual distinction in Habermas' work, the difference between work and interaction. Habermas defines "work," or "purposive-rational action," as activity governed by technical rules rooted in empirical knowledge designed to transform nature for human purposes.9 He defines "interaction" as "communicative action," or "symbolic action," which is governed by norms designed to achieve consensus on social issues through a process of articulating needs, defining reciprocal behavior expectations, and evaluating different validity claims.

The distinction is meant to preserve the difference between "techne" and "praxis," between technical and practical activity, between instrumental and critical reason, and thus between two different historical forms of rationalization and emancipation. It also allows Habermas to follow the lead of Dilthey, neo-Kantians, and hermeneutical theorists of the twentieth century in rejecting the unity of the sciences thesis and in separating the logics of social and natural explanation, a distinction Habermas preserves without ontologically divorcing the two approaches (see Chapter 4). Habermas claims that the distinction between work and interaction as irreducible categories first turned up in Hegel's early writings but was subsequently abandoned by Hegel. Marx discovered the distinction independently, but he also failed to preserve it. Where Marx allegedly conflated work and interaction under the category of social practice, Habermas separates them as two different forms of rationality, practice, and integration, where "system integration" occurs in the realm of work, and "social integration" occurs in the realm of communication.

The distinction between work and interaction roughly parallels Marx's distinction between forces and relations of production, but since Marx theorizes both in terms of production, and the subject-object, human-nature, relation that entails, Habermas believes these terms are locked into an economistic logic. The categories "forces" and "relations" of production show that Marx clearly distinguished between work and interaction, but, Habermas claims, he theoretically reduced the latter to the former; the distinction thus has to be developed more consistently and rigorously on another level through the categories of purposive-rational action and communicative action. Habermas thinks the terms work and interaction are "more suited for reconstructing the sociocultural phases of the history of mankind" (1970:114) insofar as they allow for a nonreductionist analysis of normative structures and forms of social integration, apart from instrumental action and system integration.

The dual realms of work and interaction suggest that societies develop according to dynamics that relate to control processes over both outer and inner nature. The control of outer nature takes place in the realm of production. Here, human beings learn how to gain mastery over nature; throughout history they acquire and accumulate technical knowledge that is deposited in the productive forces of society. The control of inner nature takes place through socialization. Here, human beings develop competencies in communication and acquire practical knowledge that is deposited in worldviews (moral systems), in identity formations, and also in critical knowledge, the stages of reflection whereby social actors become aware of and work to dispel forms of domination operating within communicative action. Against the one-sided focus of Marx and Foucault on, respectively, the control of outer and inner nature, Habermas seeks to incorporate both perspectives into social theory and to achieve emancipation from both external and internal nature. Emancipation from external nature succeeds through the production of technically exploitable knowledge; emancipation from internal nature succeeds through the replacement of institutions based on force with institutions organized around communication free of domination. This achievement occurs not through the productive activity of labor, but the critical activity of intersubjective dialogue. The meaning of autonomy shifts from creative praxis to communicative competence.

The realms of work and interaction carry different kinds of validity claims. In the realm of work there are truth claims requiring verification; in the realm of interaction, there are normative claims requiring legitimation. It is a result of a historical learning process that claims are not accepted without sufficient conditions of argumentation. The rationalization of action, the dynamics of historical development, as well as human evolution and progress proceed through both kinds of knowledge, technical and moral-practical. In each area, development follows rationally reconstructable patterns. The social evolution of the human species, therefore, requires a double perspective that analyzes the realms of labor and symbolic interaction, and that can also analyze power structures derived from instrumental action that guide the "steering performances" of society. Habermas' attempt to reconstruct historical materialism, proceeding through the distinction between work and interaction, therefore allows him to account for key differences between technical progress and political emancipation, science and critique, and to recover the Aristotelian contrast between techne and praxis that he feels is lost in the Marxian tradition.

In the historical process, societies evolve from an undifferentiated organic unity organized around the family to a highly differentiated structure with complex social roles and forms of individual psychology and developed competencies in communication and moral reasoning, Historical development results in a gradual expansion of secular reason over the sphere of the sacred, a tendency toward increasing reflexivity and autonomy, and a movement from tribal particularism to universalism, With Marx, Habermas claims that there are clear developmental stages in the evolution of the human species, but he does not agree that the concept of a mode of production provides the best means for historical periodization. Rather, Habermas employs a new periodizing term, "principle of social organization," that differentiates stages in social development according to successive advances in the moral-practical learning process.10 As Habermas defines it:

By principle of organization, I understand those innovations which become possible through learning processes that can be reconstructed in a developmental logic, and which institutionalizes a new societal level of learning. The organizational principle of society circumscribes ranges of possibility. It determines in particular: within which structures changes in the system of institutions are possible; to what extent the available productive capacities can be socially utilized or the development of new productive forces can be stimulated; and thereby also to what degrees system complexity and steering performances can be heightened. A principle of organization consists of such abstract regulations that within the social formation determined by it several functionally equivalent modes of production are permitted. Accordingly, the economic structure of a particular society would have to be examined at two levels: firstly, in terms of the modes of production which have entered into a concrete connection within it; and then in terms of that formation of society to which the dominant mode of production belongs. (1979: 153-154)

By appealing to different principles of organization, Habermas attempts to trace progressive advances in the development of moral reflection, action competence, and ultimately, human freedom. By emphasizing the importance of learning processes as a determinant of social change, Habermas breaks with technological determinist accounts of social evolution, both narrow and broad. He agrees with the assumption (brought out by Cohen's "developmental thesis") underlying historical materialism—namely, that the impetus behind technological development is rational knowledge and the desire to implement it. Habermas states, "It is my conjecture that the fundamental mechanism for social evolution in general is to be found in an automatic inability not to learn" (1975:15). No major social change is accomplished without employing normative resources toward resolving steering problems. But since Habermas insists that learning processes include not just technical knowledge, but also moral-practical knowledge, he also rejects a broader kind of technological determinism that functionally subordinates all social dynamics to production and technical knowledge.11

But there is also here an important break from the causal primacy Marx sometimes grants to the productive forces, or even to other endogeneous factors such as war, for Habermas is privileging moral-practical forms of knowledge as the motor of history. Far from an epiphenomenon of the forces of production, learning processes in the domain of moral-practical consciousness function as "pacemakers" for social evolution. The evolutionary change of normative structures and forms of social integration is the precondition for further development of forces and relations of production. "New forms of social integration, and new productive forces, are due to the institutionalization and exploitation of new forms of knowledge" (Habermas 1986:168). Rather than the main motor of history, Habermas interprets the development of the productive forces "as a problemgenerating mechanism that triggers but does not bring about the overthrow of relations of production and an evolutionary renewal of the mode of production" (1979:146).

In fact, Habermas is inconsistent on which realm has decisive causal importance. On the one hand, he grants the validity of the base-superstructure model (1979:98) and the primacy of the productive forces (1970: 113), thereby making cultural phenomena and communicative action derivitive of technological and economic forces. He implies a functionalist subordination of communicative to instrumental action when claiming that while the rules of communicative action have their own logic, they "develop in reaction to changes in the domain of instrumental action" (1979:148). There is a crypto-productivism here that limits the ultimate sources of change to the productive forces, a claim even Marx rejected in favor of a causal pluralism. Yet, on the other hand, as implied by the phrase "pacemaker," he rejects the base-superstructure thesis (1975) and overturns the primacy thesis by privileging normative structures. He does not deny that normative development sometimes can be causally conditioned by changes in the productive forces (12), but he believes that the major evolutionary changes in Western history "were not conditioned but followed by significant development of the productive forces" (1979: 146). Stages in social development, therefore, should not be distinguished according to advances in technology or as modes of production.12

Despite his inconsistencies, the thrust of Habermas' position is clearly directed away from the productivist thesis. Yet Habermas goes too far in the opposite direction by assuming that technical progress could not occur without progress at the normative level. Indeed, as Habermas himself would emphasize, the problem of modernity is that technical progress proceeds in almost complete autonomy from moral learning. Ultimately, Marx's understanding of the overdetermination of causal forces provides a more complex and plural account than can be found in Habermas, and it is fully compatible with Habermas' emphasis on the importance of normative developments. Moreover, although Habermas is aware in the abstract that history has so far been a largely unconscious creation of social actors, his concrete analyses and many of his general statements perhaps assume too much consciousness behind the process of social change, for he understands each social transition as the result of a reflexive employment of the learning resources deposited in collective worldviews. Where Marx says a great deal about the causal forces behind the historical transition to capitalism, Habermas says very little, although he does describe the current crisis tendencies in detail and tries to probe what learning resources exist today—such as universalistic and critical forms of consciousness—that could generate a new postcapitalist principle of organization.

Yet Habermas retains Marx's claim that societies rise and fall in response to inner dynamics, inherent social limits, and crisis tendencies. Habermas claims that a given social form remains stable until the point where its developmental tendencies generate "system problems" that disturb its reproduction. Such problems can result in a social "crisis" that arises when "the structure of a social system allows fewer possibilities for problem solving than are necessary to the continued existence of the system" (1975:2). The crisis can be overcome and resolved in favor of an existing system, or its "solution" can require a whole new principle of organization.

Habermas outlines the following types of social formations: primitive, traditional, capitalist, late-capitalist, postcapitalist, and postmodern (see below). As he describes in detail (1975:18ff.), each social formation has a different dominant subsystem and a different type of crisis in reproduction ability.13 Perhaps the clearest example of social evolution he gives involves the transition from kinship to class societies. In the relatively simple and undifferentiated kinship society, system problems involving issues such as land scarcity or population density were unmanageable within its principle of organization. Drawing on the cognitive resources stored in collective worldviews, a new principle was institutionalized that tentatively arbitrated conflicts through an administration of justice on a conventional level of learning that broke with the uncritical nature of traditional norms. These new juridical forms became pacemakers of further social evolution. They allowed for the uncoupling of production from the limits of the kinship system in order to be employed on a larger level, such that "the intensification of cultivation and stock-farming, and the expansion of crafts were the results of the enlarged organizational capacity of class society" (1979:163).

Habermas draws from the work of Piaget and Kohlberg in the genetic psychology tradition to reconstruct the stages of moral and reflective knowledge. Following their lead, he claims that the phylogeny of individual learning recapitulates the ontogeny of social learning; ego development is homologous to the development of worldviews and collective identities. In Habermas' view, "the basic conceptual structure of possible experience has developed phylogenetically and arises anew in every normal ontogenesis, in a process that can be analyzed empirically" (1979:22). Each historically created cognitive structure represents the level of development a child can potentially acquire—the appropriation of historical advances is certainly not guaranteed and varies from individual to individual—in order to interact in its environment.

Habermas identifies three stages in the evolution of communication and moral consciousness: (1) symbolically mediated interaction, where speaking and acting coexist on the same undifferentiated plane of reality; (2) propositionally differentiated speech, where speaking and acting are separated such that actions are distinguished from norms; (3) argumentative speech, where norms and roles can be contested, are in need of legitimation, and assume a universal character binding to all social actors. These stages roughly overlap with Piaget's categorization of moral consciousness in preconventional, conventional, and postconventional stages. They parallel Kohlberg's more differentiated six stages (although Habermas added a seventh stage) in the development of moral consciousness, stretching from the initial stage of an undifferentiated self at one with its social and natural environment, to a rational, autonomous self critical of normative claims and choosing moral principles according to criteria of universalizability.14

This process at the level of individual development parallels the stages in the historical process of social development. Just as the representational schemes of paleolithic societies is homologous to the early development of the modern child in their lack of discrimination between natural and social phenomena, the rational character of modern society that subjects claims to the test of rational validity parallels the highest stage of ego development. The normal development of the ego identity of the modern citizen occurs in four stages that recapitulate the whole history of moral evolution: symbiotic, egocentric, socio-objective, and universalistic. In this process, the ego is gradually differentiated from both its natural and its social environment and becomes increasingly reflexive, to the point where it no longer accepts validity claims without rational basis and becomes self-determining. The process whereby propositions require rational justifi cation represents an advance in the human learning process. Habermas claims that not just individuals but societies also can learn. The relation between individual and social learning is dialectical, since social learning is dependent on individual learning, which in turn draws from the moralpractical knowledge deposited in the worldviews and interpretive systems of society. These forms of learning are individually acquired, then deposited in collective worldviews, where they become resources that can be tapped by social movements engaged in political struggle.

We see that Habermas tries to work out a unified theory of evolutionary development both at the individual and social levels. Such correlations are vaguely suggested by Marx and Engels where they claim that developments in individuality follow developments in the productive forces of society (1978:191), but they did not have the analytic resources to flesh these out and, Habermas believes, they ultimately conflated the two lines of development. While Habermas finds definite homological correlations between individual and social evolution (1979:103-106), he also warns against drawing "hasty parallels" and points to important disanalogies between them (102ff.).

The major task of Habermas' genealogy is to identify progressive advances in learning whereby mythological worldviews and dogmatic forms of tradition gradually become rationalized and give way to validity claims in need of justification. Habermas' reconstruction of the learning process thereby resembles Comte's scheme of the progression of the mind from the theological and metaphysical stages to the positive stage dominated by reason and facts, although he rejects the linear and deterministic aspects of Comte's narrative along with his equation of progress with the development of scientific knowledge alone. The normative and political upshot of Habermas' theory of social evolution is that there presently exist advanced forms of moral-practical consciousness, the products of historical development, which could be employed to constitute a free and rational society, but which are blocked by capitalist economic and political powers. In other words, communicative competencies and conceptual resources are stored in our late-modern worldview that individuals and social movements can draw on to refashion their identities and societies toward greater autonomy, freedom, and democracy.

Like Marx, Habermas sees history as an evolutionary process of increasing complexity that is greatly stimulated through the emergence of class hierarchy, the state, and private property. Driven by structures of alienation and exploitation, history tends toward ever greater system complexity. Following Marx, Habermas claims that a new principle of organization only brings new steering problems, new forms of scarcity, and new crises. The more complex a society, the greater and more complex its steering problems and crisis tendencies. This raises an important problem: is system complexity compatible with social stability? If so, can this be achieved with democracy, or does it, as Weber argued, require bureaucracy? Habermas opts for the first alternative.


What today separates us from Marx are evident historical truths.

—HABERMAS (1982:221)

As we have just seen, Habermas claims that Marx subsumes the independent dynamics of intersubjective, communicative relations to the subject-object relation of human beings controlling nature. Habermas finds in Marx's work not only a reductionistic but also a related scientistic or technocratic impulse that leads him to abandon philosophy, equate knowledge in general with scientific knowledge, and undervalue the need for practical-moral reflection by granting too large a role to the development of the productive forces as bearers of social change. Habermas' conclusion is that these problems can only be overcome by replacing the paradigm of production with the paradigm of communication.

That Marx on occassion reduces social dynamics to production is clear from his claims that all forms of domination are modifications of class domination (1975a:333), that all activity is a form of productive activity (349), or that "all history is nothing but the creation of man via labor" (357). But, as Habermas recognizes, Marx frequently uses general terms like "production" to designate related but independent dynamics of human action. In a narrow sense, the term "production" refers to the humannature relation governed by instrumental logic; in a broader sense, it refers to all forms of human creation and "objectification" and includes language, social relations, forms of cooperation, morality, and art.

Properly understood, Marx's concepts of "production" or "social practice" refer to the dynamics of both work and interaction. The purpose of the forces/relations of production distinction was to differentiate the relations between human beings and nature and between different groups of human beings themselves. In his understanding that the human-nature relation is always mediated by specific social relations, Marx opened up an analytic space for theorizing the dynamics of communication, while insisting that one cannot separate production and interaction, since production is necessarily embedded in the context of interaction. It is, after all, specific social relations of production that structure different forms of the labor process as various modes of exploitation and that utilize scientific and technical knowledge for purposes of social and natural control.

Habermas' critique is not that Marx unambiguously reduced interaction to work, but that his work has tensions and inconsistencies. The fundamental tension Habermas finds in Marx's work concerns what we have already identified as that between his general statements and concrete investigations (see Chapter 1). For Habermas, this tension is between historical materialism as a general theory of history that grants primacy to purposive-rational action and the critique of political economy that implictly recognized the interdependence of purposive-rational action and symbolic interaction. As Habermas puts it,

Self-constitution through social labor is conceived at the categorical level as a process of production, and instrumental action, labor in the sense of material activity, or work designates the dimension in which natural history moves. At the level of his material investigations, on the other hand, Marx always takes account of social practice that encompasses both work and interaction. The processes of natural

history are mediated by the productive activity of individuals and the organization of their interrelations. (1971:52-53)

Ultimately, however, Habermas claims that Marx resolves these tensions into productivist concepts of social life and technocratic concepts of historical change, as the dual dimensions of human evolution are dissolved into the concept of social practice. A key clue to Marx's tendency to privilege technical over practical rationality is his call for a unified science that assimilates social dynamics to natural processes and his fetishization of scientific rhetoric.15 Habermas wants not simply to broaden the account of production to include socialization, but to develop an analytically autonomous framework. Because Marx ultimately remains bound to a subject-object logic of production that fails to develop an explicit account of the intersubjective logic of communication, Habermas claims (1987a) that Marx remains wedded to the philosophy of the subject, despite his decentering of the individual producer to determining social relations.

With Habermas, I believe the main problem in Marx is not that he excluded interaction, but that he fails to provide an explicit account of the differences between work and interaction, and between technical and practical rationality. It is a significant virtue of Habermas' work to develop a specific account of these differences and to attempt a theory of the evolution of forms of moral-practical knowledge and the logic of critique. By broadening the scope of a theory of evolution beyond the confines of system integration to account also for forms of social integration, by taking into account not only the development of technical knowledge but also moral-practical knowledge, and by theorizing the relative autonomy of communicative action from production, Habermas recovers the importance of consciousness and practical learning for political change and breaks with certain tendencies in Marx—rigidly absolutized by later mechanistic Marxists—to make the development of the forces of production the sufficient condition for human emancipation. By challenging the reductionistic tendencies of Marx's theory, Habermas is able to rethink the problems inherent in the Marxian base-superstructure model of analysis and its theory of crisis. The shift from mode of production to principle of organization recasts the material "base" of society such that it is no longer identical with its economic structure, but includes, more generally, a specific form of social integration, a dominant subsystem. Habermas makes a convincing case that culture and morality are not just "superstructural" phenomena, but are important components of social evolution that have an internal history of their own.

Habermas' better developed conceptual framework also helps to overcome a tendency in Marx toward a technocratic conception of historical change that on occasion led him to think the internal development of capitalism would generate the objective and subjective conditions of revolution. Here too Marx's work displayed competing tendencies. These emerge out of its dual character as both empirical/ scientific and philosophical/critical. Marx is concerned both with an analysis and explanation of empirical phenomena in capitalist society and with a critique of its forms of distorted consciousness that seeks to initiate a critical class consciousness and a process of self-reflection (Wellmer 1971; Gouldner 1980). Since his earliest reflections, Marx was acutely aware of the need to emancipate critical consciousness from the distorting forces of ideology. A dominant theme of Marx's Theses on Feuerbach is the need for "practical-critical activity" that informs revolutionary practice. But in the Grundrisse, for example, Habermas finds conflicting tendencies toward both accepting and rejecting the view that advances in science and technology are sufficient for the liberation of those self-conscious subjects that democratically regulate their social life process (1971:48-52),

Despite the critical nature of Marx's work, which implies the need for communicative rationality, Habermas claims that Marx ultimately privileged technical over moral-practical knowledge as the key source of social change. In the Grundrisse, for example, Marx envisaged the transition to socialism in terms of a growing technical command over society's productive forces: "The development of fixed capital indicates the extent to which general social knowledge has become an immediate force of production, and therefore the conditions of the social life process itself have come under the control of the general intellect" (Marx, quoted in Habermas 1971:47). Habermas see here "a model according to which the history of the species is linked to an automatic transposition of natural science and technology into a self-consciousness which controls the material life-process" (1971:48).

Habermas finds countervailing passages in the Grundrisse that deny that the transformation of science into machinery leads automatically to the liberation of self-conscious subjects.16 In such alternative passages, he claims that for Marx the self-constitution of the species takes place both in the context of instrumental action upon nature and the dimension of power relations that govern social interaction. Habermas also maintains that Marx clearly distinguishes the self-conscious control of society by associated producers from the automatic regulation of production that is independent of individuals (1971:51). Marx fully understands, in other words, that scientific-technical progress can be directed against the awakening of critical consciousness insofar as, for example, it binds the individual to the machine and its deadening repetitions. His vision of socialism entailed not only a quantitative extension of capitalist technologies but also their qualitative transformation, which requires a change in the form and social relations of production. The productive powers of society would no longer be deployed solely as the productive powers of capital, but as those of the workers' own powers. Habermas claims, moreover, that Marx abandoned this technocratic model after the Grundrisse, and that it does not therefore appear in Capital and other later works.

What Habermas criticizes, then, is a tendency in Marx to conflate technical with practical knowledge, to fail to see that the former does not guarantee the latter, that practical consciousness is separate from technical consciousness, that it involves a different learning process, and that it requires independent development and institutional forms. The consequence of the belief that the main learning mechanism for social change is found in technical knowledge is that "the relationship between theory to practice can only assert itself as the purposive-rational application of techniques assumed by empirical science" (Habermas 1973a: 254). Marx wrongly "localized the learning processes important for evolution in the dimension of objectivating thought—of technical and organizational knowledge, of instrumental and strategic action, in short, of productive forces." He thereby failed to emphasize sufficiently the learning processes that also occur "in the dimension of moral insight, practical knowledge, communicative action, and the consensual regulation of action conflicts— learning processes that are deposited in more mature forms of social integration, in new productive relations, and that in turn first make possible the introduction of new productive forces" (Habermas 1979:9798). Marx therefore "eliminates reflection as such as a motive force in history" (1971:44).

To put it in other terms, Marx sometimes exaggerated the extent to which capitalism was truly threatened by its economic crises alone, failing to emphasize adequately the independent need for moral-practical consciousness and political struggle. In some passages, Marx claimed that the economic crisis of capitalism would be so severe as necessarily to engender a lived crisis. But, as Habermas emphasizes, the economic and political crisis of the capitalist system was indefinitely postponed through systemic flexibility and was contained ideologically. While system and social crisis are interrelated, they are not identical and the latter is not a mechanical effect of the former. Abandoning the belief that technological development is inherently emancipatory, Habermas argues that rationalization at the level of purposive-rational subsystems must be accompanied by rationalization in the realm of symbolic interaction where human beings can assess validity claims and achieve consensus over the norms and procedures of social organization. To state it another way, social change requires that both forms of crisis—objective and subjective, system and lifeworld—exist and that lived crisis be generated through reflexive awareness, communication, debate, and a critique of domination. Unless communicative rationality is as developed as technological rationality, unless subjective crisis is as developed as objective crisis, there will be an insufficient basis for social transformation. As Habermas says, "Liberation from hunger and misery does not necessarily converge with liberation from servitude and degradation, for there is no automatic developmental relation between labor and interaction" (1973a:169).

Marx himself emphasized the importance of class struggle and political consciousness. He insisted that critical consciousness does not come alone or automatically from production, but rather that workers would have to go through the long school of revolution. But Marx's focus was more on the economic-technological conditions of change and he sometimes spoke as though the transition to communism was guaranteed rather than contingent. Marx showed a tendency to believe both that immiseration would stimulate revolution and that there would be an automatic transposition of science and technology into critical self-consciousness. Marx conceived of the rational social world primarily in terms of the democratic technical control of use value. Since Marx's time, however, history has taught us "that even a well-functioning planning bureaucracy with scientific control of the production of goods and services is not a sufficient condition for realizing the associated material and intellectual productive forces in the interest of the enjoyment and freedom of an emancipated society. For Marx did not reckon with the possible emergence at every level of a discrepancy between scientific control of the material life conditions and a democratic decision-making process" (Habermas 1970: 58). Marx underestimated the phenomenon of power, in other words, which both Foucault and Habermas see to be a Hydra with many heads. For Habermas, technical knowledge does not constitute enlightenment and far from guarantees the creation of a vital public sphere engaged in the ongoing process of debate over needs, values, and the overall organization of society.

Habermas understands that the technocratic vision of social change implies a political technocracy that seeks authoritarian command over natural resources apart from furthering a general enlightenment and process of democracy. The epistemological result of conflating the social and natural sciences is that Marx succumbs to the positivist illusion of a presuppositionless theory and fails to justify adequately the validity of his own historical viewpoint. When historical materialism opposes itself to philosophy, understood merely as bourgeois ideology rather than epistemology, and establishes itself as science, it surrenders its radical character and itself becomes ideology by appropriating the scientistic understanding of theory and social life fostered by positivism and late capitalism. "That we disavow reflection is positivism" (Habermas 1971: vii). Against Marx, Habermas claims that social theory requires epistemological justification.

Seeking to break from the technocratic tendencies in Marx's analysis, Habermas explicitly distinguishes between technical and practical knowledge, between the capacity for control and the capacity for enlightenment, between the rational organization of science and technology and the democratic governing of social life, between the separate logics of the natural and social sciences. Habermas attempts to reconstruct the notion of praxis in a way that recovers the multidimensional meanings initially given to it by Aristotle—referring to speech, noble deeds, and ethical activity—but which Marx and the modern tradition beginning with Machievelli and Hobbes has drastically reduced (see Habermas 1973a).

Habermas also develops a more complex and multifaceted account of crisis pertinent to changing conditions of capitalism. Habermas finds capitalism vulnerable to four different crisis tendencies: an economic crisis of failure to produce sufficient quantities of goods, a rationality crisis in which the political system fails to administer economic imperatives adequately, a legitimation crisis generated by insufficient mass loyalty, and a motivation crisis resulting from a deficit in action-motivating meaning. For Habermas, crisis involves not only objective "system" factors that involve contradictions and malfunctions of the social structures, but also subjective "identity" factors that involve frustrated needs and dissatisfaction. Marx was aware of the difference and the need for both kinds of crisis to exist for a revolutionary situation, but he failed to integrate them into a coherent social theory and practice.

To sum up: in the case of Marx's reductive tendencies, Habermas' critique provides a necessary corrective; in the case of his nonreductive tendencies, Habermas' account serves to give a more explicit analysis of what is only implicit in Marx. I do not believe, however, that Habermas adequately understands the contextual nature of Marx's work (see Chapter 1), that he always situates specific passages in their proper framework, nor that he grasps the full complexity of the multiple modes of theory and practice that Marx develops. If Marx consistently analyzes the inseparability of work and interaction, of productive and interactive competence, of technical and critical knowledge, then it is misleading to claim that he has a technocratic or reductionist conception of history. The main problem in Marx's work is his undertheorization of the realm of interaction and the evolution and nature of moral-practical or critical knowledge.

While there are many theoretical advantages to Habermas' framework, there are also serious disadvantages and problems that frequently constitute a regression behind Marx's own analyses. In his attempt to separate work from interaction, Habermas fails to grasp the interrelationship between these two social realms as they develop historically and he moves from Marx's dialectical holism to a nondialectical dualism. Habermas claims that the distinction between work and interaction is only an analytic distinction and that empirically the two realms of social life overlap, but he nevertheless differentiates too sharply between these realms and does not concretely analyze important lines of overlap.17

The "strategic" action of class struggle, for example, clearly combines communicative and purposive-rational action. Ideally, its goal is not only control of natural resources and the social economy, but also the fostering of enlightenment and consensus oriented around norms of democracy and social justice. Similarly, workers' democracy movements use communicative rationality (in the form of dialogue, debate, and possibly consensus) to decide questions regarding instrumental rationality (the organization of the workplace). Sensat observes that because Habermas creates too strict a separation between work and interaction, he himself unwittingly succumbs to a technocratic conception that "presupposes that stages of scientific and technological development can be adequately individuated apart from their specific interactional (class-relational) contexts" (1979:114). By contrast, Marx decisively overturned this view by analyzing the interaction between forces and relations of production.

Habermas' theory has other dualistic tendencies in the framework of ecology. Habermas claims that cognitive-instrumental rationality necessarily requires an observer and domineering attitude toward nature, while communicative rationality by nature overcomes this objectifying standpoint. Just as there can be an ecological science that understands the subject as a participant rather than a neutral observer and seeks to promote unity and harmony between human beings and nature, so the intersubjective standpoint of communicative rationality is compatible with an exploitative attitude toward nature, since nothing prevents dialogic participants from attaining consensus on the project of exploiting nature. There is no inherent ecological telos in any form of communicative rationality; moreover, the interdialogic "enlightenment" of human actors does not guarantee their socialization into an ecological sensibility. Habermas blocks the possibility of an "ecological science" that does not take a strictly instrumental attitude toward nature or reduce it to raw materials and resources for human use.18 Habermas' critique is ahistorical, since it is only in capitalism that scientific practice developed such an attitude. As Keane points out (1975), Habermas' equation of work with instrumental rationality and efficiency transforms the capitalist organization of work into an eternal form and blocks alternative conceptions, such as Schiller, Marx, and Marcuse envisaged, that link work with spontaneity, play, or aesthetics.

Thus, Habermas has dualistic and ahistorical tendencies that Marx overcame in his analyses. Marx not only clearly analyzed the historical transformation of science and technology under the interests of capital, he also understood the interest in emancipation to be the specific product of the bourgeois democratic revolutions, rather than an innate norm given in language itself. Except for his early view of history as the unfolding of species being, Marx broke with the ahistorical and teleological view of a historical macrosubject retained by Habermas. Despite his theory of social evolution and his rejection of determinism, Habermas posits a developmental logic of history informed by a telos that seeks the optimization of a moral outlook that is realized in the universalism of postconventional thought. Rather than differentiating various historical actors and cultures, Habermas assumes a unified "human species." Marx, in contrast, had a far more plural and complex account of different historical groups and cultures; his narrative of history also contained significant ruptures lacking in Habermas' account.

In his eventual break from historical materialism, his transformation of historical specific forms of "work" into an invariant category of "purposive-rational action," Habermas abandons too much of the paradigm of production. To reject Marxism is to relinquish indispensible categories for the analysis of labor, exploitation, profit, accumulation, and commodification—core phenomena that continue to structure our present form of social existence and of which Marx had a far deeper understanding than Habermas. Moreover, the Marxian account of labor forms an indispensible precondition and context for any theory of communication. Marx showed how forms of consciousness and communication are distorted within socioeconomic forms and their ideologies. As Marx would insist, changes in the form and content of human communication must be understood in relation to general changes in the technical, economic, and political institutions of society, rather than as autonomous forms of development. Given the commodification of "communication" technologies, and the increasing historical tendency to eliminate interaction and communicative competence from the workplace through Tay lorization and from the structures of everyday life through mass media, a Marxian perspective of political economy remains crucial for understanding key aspects of communication itself.

A decisive advantage Marx and Foucault have over Habermas is their direct focus on how power relations structure work, communication, and self-consciousness. To be sure, a key concern of Habermas' work is the relations of power embedded in "systematically distorted communication."19 But Habermas tends to hypostatize power through abstract categories such as "steering performances" or "expansion of system autonomy." He doesn't adequately link normative structures to power relations and he rarely specifies concrete forces of domination and struggle. His account of the "socialization" of "inner nature" underplays the extent to which this involves a repression of needs, desires, and spontaneity, such as is emphasized by the Frankfurt School and Foucault.

In his parallel, but certainly not identical, category of purposiverational action, Habermas fails to capture core aspects of the capitalist work process that are better illuminated through Marx. As Heller (1982) makes clear, Habermas reduced Marx's concept of work from its broad anthropological meaning to its most narrow meaning as instrumental activity. "Work" for Marx involves, inseparably, the transformation of both the internal and the external worlds. Habermas therefore misses the larger meaning of work as self-transformative activity. In this sense, "production" also involves communicative and aesthetic rationality. The early Marx's interpretation of history as the evolution of the senses, for example, is an insight into what Habermas refers to as advances in aestheticexpressive rationality. Marx also saw attitudes toward nature that were not merely instrumental and dominating, but also aesthetic and sensuous (Roderick 1986:157).

In addition, Honneth shows (1982) that Habermas' concept of work as instrumental action fails to retain Marx's distinction between alienated and unalienated labor. The distinction between free and distorted communication has no parallel in the realm of work, where the category of instrumental action subsumes the activity of the artisan as well as the factory worker disciplined by Taylorized management techniques. Consequently, Habermas drains the category of work of all critical import, failing to see that an important type of moral-normative knowledge and critique issues not only from the realm of communication, but from the realm of work as well, where the experience of degraded activity can prompt a serious questioning of the entire social system. Where Marx developed the concept of work not only as an economic category, but also as a normative category designating the potential for emancipatory self-development (Bildung), Habermas narrows the concept of work to the extent that it is emptied of all critical content. For Honneth, the fundamental flaw of Habermas' communicative theory "is that its basic concepts are laid out from the beginning as though the process of liberation from alienated work relations, which Marx had in mind, were already historically complete" (1982:54).

Habermas counters arguments in favor of the anthropological conception of work by addressing some of the problematic assumptions embedded in Marx's account (Habermas 1982:223-226). Habermas finds it difficult to extend the economic concept of work into a generalized model of self-expression, especially under prevailing historical conditions of a Taylorized workplace that allegedly purges all normative content from the concept of work. Habermas also argues that after the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts Marx himself abandoned the anthropological model of work as self-externalization and shifted the normative grounding to the labor theory of value.

Aside from his mistaken claim that the model of alienated labor is central only to one early text of Marx's, Habermas throws out the baby with the bathwater by dissolving the very concept of alienated labor with the allegedly problematic notion of work as self-expression. In its stead he substitutes a reified communication definition of alienation: "I explain the alienation phenomena specific to modern societies by the fact that spheres of communicatively structured life-world have increasingly been subjected to imperatives of adaption to autonomous sub-systems, which have been differentiated out through media such as money and power, and which represent fragments of non-free society" (1982:226). Habermas obscures the very process of hyperalienated work to refute the selfexpressive model of work. He uncritically accepts the recent trend where "the concept of labour has been purged of all normative content in industrial sociology" (225). Whatever the conditions of work today, Marx's normative vision of work as a type of craft activity remains crucial for recapturing a substantive notion of meaningful work, and should function as something like an ideal work situation. One could turn the tables on Habermas and argue that if the normative model of work is obsolete today, so too is the normative model of communication, for one sphere is no less colonized than the other.

It seems clear then that Marx and Habermas often provide useful supplements and correctives to each other's positions. Rather than following Habermas in his move toward a super-abstract communications framework, we can say, with Roderick, that "communication theory is most usefully construed as a supplement to the paradigm of production, and not as a replacement of it" (1986:167). Just as Habermas' communication theory illuminates phenomena difficult to see through the lens of production, there are elements of Marx's analysis indispensible for a critical theory of society, such as the concept of alienated labor, that cannot be captured by a communication model. The analysis of the linguistic utterance is a poor substitute for that of the commodity form. In response to the objection that he seeks to supersede historical materialism rather than to provide complementary analyses, Habermas is evasive (1986: 213). He claims that he is incorporating the cognitive-instrumental aspects of action, while abandoning unteneable aspects of it such as the expressivist model of alienation and supplementing Marx by providing an account of developments of the social-integrative core of evolution. Yet, I have argued, Habermas has left behind key elements of the production framework and wrongly takes the turn to a whole new paradigm.

Before turning to Habermas' critique of Foucault and postmodern theory, we need to understand his critical defense of modernity and the Enlightenment, for Habermas' belief in the progressive tendencies of the modern world is the basis of his critique of postmodern theory.


Modern life-worlds are differentiated and should remain so in order that the reflexivity of traditions, the individuation of the social subject, and the universalistic foundations of justice and morality do not all go to hell.

—HABERMAS (1986:107)

A major goal of Habermas' theory is to overcome the pessimistic turn of critical theory initiated by Adorno and Horkheimer through the influence of Max Weber, and which reverberates powerfully in postmodern theories. Unlike Marx, who uncritically championed the emancipatory potential of modern rationality, science, and technology, Weber challenged the Enlightenment conception that the development of secular reason would lead to human freedom. For Weber, the rationalization of cultural and social life in the modern world resulted in greater forms of domination. Instrumental rationality carried a hidden logic that created a powerful form of bureaucratic and technical control which Weber likened to an iron cage of social life. For Weber, the kind of socialist society Marx envisioned, organized around technical imperatives, could only deepen the dynamics of domination further and therefore posed no emancipatory alternative to capitalism.

Lukacs appropriated Weber's work to show how reification—the transformation of social relations into relations among things that leads to the occlusion of critical consciousness—was a form of rationalization. But Lukacs ignored the fatalistic aspects of Weber and renewed Marx's optimism in the emancipatory tendencies in history that could be realized through a politically conscious working class. With the appearance of world wars, fascism, a culture industry, and a conservative working class, Adorno and Horkheimer found this optimism untenable and employed Weber's insights in an even more radical direction that traced the logic of domination all the way back to the beginnings of Western rationality. Anticipating Foucault's analysis of normalization, the Dialectic of Enlightenment theorized rationality as a repressive "identity logic" that seeks to extirpate difference and individuality. Hence, Adorno and Horkheimer abandoned the progressivist view of history, posited the existence of a totally administered society, and practiced a negative critique that only saw domination without positive possibilities for struggle or escape outside of the marginalized sphere of aesthetics.

Fully aware of the transformation of Marx's vision of revolution and emancipation into a philosophy of despair and resignation, Habermas attempts to rethink the foundations of critical theory and to develop a new vision of freedom and democracy. Habermas is deeply influenced by Weber's account of rationalization and takes into account the failure of rationalization to produce emancipation, but he nevertheless returns to Marx's practice of a dialectical theory, which sees both repressive and emancipatory tendencies in history and tries to advance historically created possibilities for human liberation.

Hence, Habermas seeks a theory of modernity that simultaneously is a theory of rationality that confronts the deformed realization of reason in history. This requires a theory of social evolution that analyzes the historical dynamics leading to the social pathologies of modernity, but also creates the possibility for their cure. The project here is to repair the damaged link between enlightenment and emancipation. Habermas intends to develop a sharp critique of modernity, but "without surrendering the project of modernity or descending into post- or anti-modernism, 'tough' new conservativism or [the] 'wild' young conservativism of Foucault and others" (Habermas 1986:107).

Habermas draws from Weber to interpret modernity as a disenchanting, secularizing, and rationalizing process that destroys the philosophical basis of previous religions and worldviews and creates systems of purposive-rational action (1987a). Unlike the mythico-magical worldview, the modern worldview differentiates between objective, social, and subjective domains of reality, the different attitudes toward them, and the validity claims proper to each. Through his Kantianized reading of Weber, Habermas characterizes "cultural modernity" as a process of creating a rational worldview and differentiating reason into three separate fields of value—science, morality, and art—all of which were inseparably interwoven in traditional forms of life. Each branch of reason develops according to its own autonomous logic and has its own sphere of validity: truth, normative rightness, and authenticity and beauty. The rationality structures appropriate to these fields are cognitive-instrumental, moral-practical, and aesthetic-expressive. The discourses of science, morality and law, and art criticism were institutionalized in different spheres, where they became the province of cultural specialists isolated from the general public.

With Enlightenment philosophers, Habermas sees this differentiation as a positive effect of modernity, because it separates the cognitive potential of various spheres of life and makes possible a rational organization of everyday life. The differentiating logic of cultural modernity allows for questions of truth, justice, and taste to come into their own and promotes critical consciousness. Besides creating progressive advances in law, civil rights, and individual liberties, modernity releases forces of communicative rationality and establishes rational norms by which social institutions and ideologies can be assessed. For the first time, cultural norms lose their unquestioned character and require rational grounding.

But Habermas criticizes Weber for not seeing the selective nature of modernization processes that have given way to the disproportionate power of science and cognitive-instrumental rationality over other spheres of reason (1986:111). It is only in modernity that the subsystems of purposive-rational action, economics and politics, burst through the normative fetters of cultural tradition to become independent ruling logics in the form of money and power. Habermas refers to the process of economic and political control over the social context from which they have been abstracted as the "colonization of the lifeworld." With the onesided development of instrumental rationality, "ever more personal relations, services, and phases of life are being transformed into objects of administration, or into commodities" (141).

Habermas' analysis has important overlaps with Weber, in its reference to growing bureaucratization of life, with Marx, in its reference to expanding processes of comodification, and with Foucault, in its reference to the growing scientific and technological administration of life. But Habermas resists the postmodern descriptive claim (Baudrillard) that these various spheres have totally imploded and the postmodern prescriptive goal (Derrida) to collapse substantive distinctions among various spheres of value, such as between philosophy and literature. Habermas does acknowledge that in late capitalism there is a triumph of "system over lifeworld," as the result of the penetration of money, power, and instrumental rationality, but he does not accept the radical Baudrillardian thesis of total social implosion, a variation on Marcuse's thesis of "one-dimensional society." Habermas claims that the project of cultural modernity is still intact despite the growing complexity of modern society; he also argues that critical theory must try to rescue the remnants of communicative rationality and maintain the differentiation of spheres of ra tionality and their separate validity claims. He rejects all pessimistic philosophies, be they those of Luhmann or Baudrillard, that pronounce the assimilation of all conflict within a perfectly functional system.

The postmodern rejection of rationality and its field of differentiation replays surrealism's attempt to aestheticize all facets of social existence by conflating the boundaries between art and life. For Habermas, such a "terroristic" program is doomed to failure: "A reified everyday praxis can be cured only by creating unconstrained interaction of the cognitive with the moral-practical and the aesthetic-expressive elements. Reification cannot be overcome by forcing just one of those highly stylized cultural spheres to open up and become more accessible. Instead, we see under certain circumstances a relationship emerge between terroristic activities and the over-extension of any one of these spheres into other domains" (1983:11-12, my emphasis).

Everyday life cannot be changed simply by transforming only one sphere; political programs must address and balance all three spheres. In a nonreified lifeworld one would find an autonomization and interaction of the three spheres of value and their appropriate forms of argumentation and validity claims. Just as instrumental rationality should not colonize aesthetics, aesthetics should not colonize instrumental rationality or the moral-practical sphere. The general solution Habermas proposes to cure the ills of the modern world is not to reject instrumental rationality, and with it science and technology, but to redress the balance between the various spheres of rationality and to increase the content of communicative rationality. Communicative rationality "is already embodied in the existing forms of interaction and does not first have to be postulated" (Habermas 1982:227).

A Habermasian politics, therefore, turns on the distinction between instrumental and communicative rationality, on the critique of the colonization of the lifeworld by economic and political forces, on the attempt to salvage the remaining remnants of communicative rationality within a public sphere that can initiate greater democratic participation, and on the project of fostering moral-practical rationality that challenges the hegemony of science over ethics and politics. Where money and power have taken over the social integrative functions previously fulfilled by consensual norms, Habermas seeks to bring them back into the control of the lifeworld. The movement toward greater democratization begins with the revival of a public sphere organized around open discussion and the redemption of normative validity claims. From this, Habermas seeks to promote the gradual, nonviolent extension of democracy without advocating the overthrow of the social order.

Despite the typical picture in the United States of Habermas as an arid and apolitical intellectual, due to the highly abstract character of his main works, he is very much an intellectual engage, and has a highly public profile in Germany.20 For four decades, he has struggled against regressive tendencies in the Federal Republic and supported democratic alternatives. A key motivating factor of Habermas' politics is his own experience with fascism in Germany, since he grew up in the Hitler Youth movement (Habermas 1986). Beginning in the early 1950s, and again in subsequent decades, Habermas denounced Heidegger's fascism and the culture that influenced it. In the 1960s, he supported the German student movements, but condemned the ultrarevolutionary and surrealist factions that jettisoned the ideals of gradual reform or rational critique as "left-fascism" (a term he later withdrew). In the 1980s, Habermas took a progressive stance in the "Historian's Debate" over the issue of the moral responsibility of the German nation for the Holocaust (see Habermas 1989b, 1994). Whereas neoconservative historians wished to justify or whitewash the attempt at a "final solution" and to "normalize" the aberration of genocide, Habermas condemned Nazism and its historical revisionists. He insisted on the need of the German people never to forget this dark chapter in their history and to keep alive the memory of its victims so that the flames of fascism could never again burn. He also has supported the rights of asylum seekers in

Germany and called for better immigration laws. Habermas did not support German reunification, because of worries over the loss of political and ethnic identities, but he did support the U.S. effort in the Gulf War, on rather unconvincing grounds (see Habermas 1994).21

In the 1980s, Habermas identified a new theoretical enemy, another species of conservativism, and he shifted the focus of his critique from the hyperrationalism of positivism to the irrationalism of postmodern theory.22


Habermas rejects both "postmodernism," as a cultural and philosophical project, and postmodernity, as an alleged new historical era that emerges from the ruins of modernity. Habermas identifies two different versions of the thesis that modernity and the Enlightenment have ended and given way to a postmodern or posthistorical condition (1983). The neoconservative version, as promulgated by Arnold Gehlen, holds that the ideals of the Enlightenment are dead, but live on in parodic, negative form. In Weber's terms, cultural modernity has collapsed and has been taken over by the irrevocable dynamics of social modernity; rationalization processes operate now only in instrumental, no longer in critical, form. The post-modern version, which Habermas claims is held by Foucault, also posits the end of the Enlightenment, but bids farewell both to cultural and social modernity, since rationality is nothing but the will to power. For Adorno and Horkheimer, Foucault, Luhmann, and others, the end of the Enlightenment also spells the end of the individual and its critical abilities, which prevent it from being completely assimilated by systems of power.

Habermas denies that we are in a postmodernity where struggle, conflict, opposition, differentiation, and system crisis have been eliminated in favor of a perfectly functioning cyberetic system. Instead, he claims, we are in a late-capitalist society still determined by the capitalist state and economy, still characterized by conflict and opposition, still crisisridden, and still vulnerable to change through rational critique and political struggle. There remain objective possibilities for extending communicative rationality to more spheres of social existence, to create a rational society that eliminates ideology and domination. Thus, all claims to a post-modern or posthistorical condition are false insofar as tendencies of Enlightenment and modernity remain alive and new historical events and processes can still occur. Habermas readily admits that the "project of modernity"—the attempt to preserve the different value spheres and to promote moral progress, social justice, and human happiness—has so far failed. But he refuses the postmodern rejection of this project as inherently flawed and he poses a fundamental choice: "Should we try to hold on to the intentions of the Enlightenment, feeble as they may be, or should we declare the entire project of modernity a lost cause?" (1983:9-10). Postmodern theorists pursue the latter choice, but they have prematurely abandoned the project of modernity.

There are various indications, however, that Habermas believes that a fundamentally new society is on the horizon and that we are reaching the end of history, claims that I find to stand in tension with one another. Habermas makes a reference to a "post-capitalist" society, but this is misleading because he uses the term to designate state-socialist societies (which arguably are not significantly structurally different from capitalist societies) (1975). Habermas also posits a "post-modern society," but gives conflicting characterizations of it. He understands postmodern society as (1) a society "characterized by a primacy of the scientific and educational systems" (1979:165); (2) a society devoid of critical rationality and democracy and overtaken by technical administration (1975:133); and (3) "a historically new principle of organization and not a different name for the surprising vigor of an aged capitalism" (17). The first reference makes little sense since it suggests no difference from late-capitalist society as Habermas characterizes it, the second reference he rejects, and third is left unspecified. Despite the provocative quality of the third reference, there is no evidence that Habermas departs from his main view that we remain within a crisis-ridden late-capitalist society. In fact, rather than advancing an open-ended, continuously dynamic view of history, Habermas sees late capitalism as the end of history in a sense that coincides more with Fukuyama than with Baudrillard.23 This occurs with the final stage in the development of ego identity and moral competencies, a process that culminates in the demands for autonomy, universal outlook, and postconventional learning. Habermas claims that "the logical space for evolutionarily new problems is exhausted with the reflexive turn of motive formation and the structural scarcity of meaning" found in capitalism (1979:167).

Given Habermas' dialectical framework, his belief that progressive change can only come through an appropriation and development of communicative rationality, and his personal encounter with Nazism, it is not surprising he is hostile to attacks on modernity and Enlightenment reason and labels them "conservative." Habermas' shift from the critique of positivism to postmodern theory is perfectly logical: although positivists push everything nonempirical into the sphere of irrationality, and many postmodern theorists embrace the anarchic and irrational, both discourses equate rationality with instrumental rationality. This explains both why positivists denounce everything (such as moral and aesthetic language) except empirical knowledge as metaphysics, and why some postmodernists reject rationality per se as terroristic. Moreover, both camps reject normative critique, but for opposite reasons: positivists, because they seek a methodological separation between fact and value; postmodern theorists, because they believe political, legal, or moral norms are simply vehicles for domination, or because they no longer believe in the possibility for freedom.

While Habermas repudiates the irrationalism of postmodern theory, his work has important similarities with the postmodern critique of modern forms of reason. Beyond a shared understanding that modern forms of rationality have led to new modes of domination, Habermas and postmodern theorists reject the modern attempt to ground reason in a first philosophy whose foundation stands outside of historical and social existence. Like postmodern theory, Habermas claims that the subject and its modes of understanding are deeply embedded within social and historical existence, and he shares with postmodern theory a historical analysis of modes of rationality. Both Habermas and postmodern theorists argue that "there are no theory-neutral sets of 'facts,' no absolutely unblurrable distinctions, no unmediated 'givens'; no timeless structure of reason, no absolutely neutral standpoint for inquiry outside of the ongoing interpretations, values, and interests of the actual community of inquirers at work in our current social practices" (Roderick 1986:8).

Like postmodern theory, Habermas rejects the classical totalizing project of philosophy. He describes how the traditional philosophical attempt to explain the unity of all reality through a comprehensive theory whose principles are discovered in reason has collapsed through advances in the empirical sciences. "Philosophy can no longer refer to the whole of the world, of nature, of history, of society in the sense of a totalizing knowledge" (Habermas 1984:1). Subsequently, Habermas states that philosophical thought has withdrawn from speculative, metaphysical schemes and retreats into a metaphilosophy concerned with the formal conditions of knowledge. Habermas believes that "philosophy in its post-metaphysical, post-Hegelian currents is converging toward the point of a theory of rationality" (2), such as Habermas attempts to work out in his two-volume tome, The Theory of Communicative Action.

Habermas occludes the affinities between his work and postmodern theory and therefore posits too sharp a discontinuity between the two frameworks. Yet, among other things, Habermas' attempt to contextualize a historical critique of the present within a larger developmental-logical theory and to construct a positive theory of rationality that can ground critique marks a fundamental point of difference between his work and postmodern theory. For Habermas, postmodernists move from one false extreme to another when they replace a theory of rationality with a totalizing critique of rationality and when they leap from the rejection of absolutism to an embrace of relativism. For Habermas, the abandonment of foundationalism does not mean that no kind of foundations can be provided for normative critique. Rather than abandoning philosophy after the critique of its dogmatic and metaphysical adventures, Habermas seeks to employ it in conjunction with the empirical social sciences for normative critique and the reconstruction of normative learning processes. Rather than rejecting evolutionary theories as necessarily metaphysical and teleological, Habermas tries to redefine them in a nonmetaphysical manner. With Lyotard and Foucault, Habermas rejects the "philosophy of history" tradition for its metaphysical assumptions concerning teleology, continuity, rationality, and subjectivity, but unlike them he retains the historical metanarrative form in order to analyze actual historical continuities and possibilities for human freedom. Habermas seeks to abandon a speculative vision of history for an empirically falsifiable theory with practical intent.

Of the various postmodern theorists and counter-Enlightenment figures he criticizes, Habermas shows the most respect for Foucault. His reading of Foucault is far more nuanced and sympathetic than his reading of Heidegger and Derrida. He finds Foucault's work to be "more fertile, and simply more informative" for historical and sociological analysis than Heidegger's reflections on technology and enframing or Derrida's critique of metaphysics (1987a:338). Nevertheless, Habermas lumps Fou cault together with Derrida and others and denounces them as "young conservatives" or "anarchists" who surrender the progressive aspects of modernity and rationality and undercut the possibility for normative critique.

Habermas' attack on Foucault and postmodern theory begins in "Modernity as an Unfinished Project" and is developed further in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Habermas distinguishes between the old conservatives who are traditional rationalists and antimodernists; the neoconservatives who embrace capitalism, science, and technology but blame a subversive modernism for the ills of modern society; and the young conservatives who attack modernity and the Enlightenment. The young conservatives "remove into the sphere of the far-away and the archaic the spontaneous powers of the imagination, self-experience, and emotion. To instrumental reason they juxtapose in Manichean fashion a principle only accessible through evocation, be it the will to power or sovereignty, Being or the Dionysiac force of the poetical. In France, this line leads from George Bataille via Michel Foucault to Jacques Derrida" (Habermas 1983: 14).

Habermas sees postmodern theory not as a rupture with modern theory tout court, but as an extension of the aesthetic modernity tradition that attacked reason and liberal discourse and valorized art as a radical other to the hegemony of rationality. Both the neoconservative and post-modern revolts against modernity are anticipated and inspired by pre-existing modern critiques: "They are merely cloaking their complicity with the venerable tradition of counter-Enlightenment in the garb of post-Enlightenment" (Habermas 1987a:5). Thus, overturning its claim to radical novelty, Habermas understands postmodern theory more as anti-modern than as postmodern. Postmodern discourse is parasitic upon a line of questioning first made possible by Hegel's historical self-consciousness. Hegel's thought leads in various directions, to Marxism from the left-Hegelians, to neoconservativism from the right-Hegelians, and to postmodern theory from Nietzsche. Nietzsche's critique of metaphysics led to one line of postmodern thought that includes Heidegger and Derrida, and his unmasking of knowledge as the will to power led to another line established by Bataille and Foucault. Heidegger and Derrida seek the destruction of metaphysics, while Foucault allegedly seeks the destruction of historiography.

Whatever similarities one can find between the critique of metaphysics and traditional historiography in Foucault and Habermas, beneath these affinities one finds deep, irreconcilable differences that emerge in large part from their respective grounding in postmodern and modern paradigms. These differences relate principally to competing theories of rationality, modernity, history, and the question of a normative foundation for social critique.

Throughout his work, Habermas has criticized the damaging effects of an overextended instrumental rationality, and has shown how science and technology have subjugated rather than liberated human beings. Hence, he is in agreement with the critique of instrumental reason as made by Weber, the Frankfurt School, and Foucault. But Habermas believes that Adorno and Horkheimer and Foucault do not adequately account for the complexity and ambiguity of modernity, and that they level its multidimensionality to a simplistic one-dimensionality of domination. Habermas acknowledges that the Enlightenment project has failed, but he believes it is premature to abandon it, thus pursuing an "enlightened suspicion of enlightenment." In each differentiated logic of cultural modernity, Habermas finds a positive consequence of rationalization. Hence, he points to the employment of science for purposes other than technical manipulation, to the incorporation of universalistic foundations of law and morality within institutions of constitutional government, and to the critical consciousness promoted by developments in avant-garde art (1983: 113).

In The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, Habermas claims that Foucault effects a number of "reductions" that undermine the project of critique and its rational justification. First, following structuralism, Foucault reduces the problem of the meaning of social practices as interpreted by conscious agents to that of explaining the conditions of possibility of discourse by the archaeologist. Subsequently, Foucault cannot account for his own interpretive standpoint; he is enmeshed in the "presentism" of his own position and cannot reconstruct the logic of historical development. Second, following Nietzsche, Foucault reduces truth-validity claims to mere power effects. Third, following positivism,

Foucault reduces the problem of justifying critique to establishing pseudo-value-free historical explanations and thus conflates foundations with "foundationalism."

All three reductions subsume knowledge, truth, and value claims to power. With these reductions, Habermas thinks, Foucault paints himself into a relativist corner and disables the project of critical theory. If, as Foucault says, all truth claims are illusory and all discourse is power, then the same must be true of Foucault's own discourse and any other "critical" theory. Therefore, genealogy cannot unmask the power effects of the human sciences, since it has no base of truth from which to speak. In such a situation, "the validity claims of the counter-discourses count no more than those of the discourses in power—they too are nothing else than the effects of power they unleash" (1987a:281). Genealogy cannot claim to be superior to the sciences to which it is opposed. By canceling the validity of its own standpoint in a radical perspectivism where everything is of equal value, genealogy destroys the foundations of its own research and defeats the very purpose of critique.

While Foucault makes pretense to value neutrality, his work, Habermas claims, is saturated with the values of oppositional politics. Foucault's terms "disciplinary society," "domination," "subjugation," and "power," are value-laden, normative terms that imply both negative judgment on the phenomena they describe and the possibility of freedom apart from such conditions. The partisan character of Foucault's work is even more obvious in his description of genealogy. The genealogist attacks all forms of history or science, be they mainstream or Marxist, that devalue and delegitimate the voices of suppressed groups in history. The avowed task of the genealogist is to raise these silenced voices to the level of audible discourse in order that their histories can be known and the knowledge attained from them inform present-day struggles against domination. The genealogist offers weapons for use by the dispossed and disenfranchized; far from neutral, he or she is thoroughly engaged.

Thus, Habermas claims that genealogy represents "the arbitrary partisanship of a criticism that cannot account for its normative foundations" (1987a:276). This position is a "crypto-normativism" because it tries to deny its basic normative thrust. By combining detached analytic description of regimes of domination with suppressed normative values, Foucault's work is a "paradoxical linking of a positivistic attitude with a critical claim" (270). Foucault clearly opposes the present form of society and intends his ideas to have a political impact, but he simultaneously seeks a methodological detachment from normative commitments and questions of the legitimacy of his analyses. Such a result represents "the embarassment of a critique that attacks the presuppositions of its own validity" (127).

Habermas believes that the "postmodern" character of Foucault's work is more to be found in its rhetoric than its philosophical assumptions. This allows for a more complex understanding of Foucault than simply as a "postmodernist," a move I argue for throughout these chapters, but Habermas never identifies the conflicting elements—premodern, modern, and postmodern—in Foucault nor explicity states the substantively modern elements in Foucault. Yet, like Dreyfus and Rabinow (1982), Habermas believes that Foucault himself is caught within a transcendental-empirical doublet, and therefore has not himself escaped the metaphysical horizon of modern thought, According to Habermas, Foucault's genealogy of the human sciences assumes an empirical character in the analysis of the technologies of power and the political functions they perform as employed by the social sciences. But the same genealogy acquires a transcendental character when it tries to explain the conditions of possibility of the scientific discourse of man as they emerge within power relationships: "genealogical historiography is supposed to be both...functionalist social science and at the same time historical research into constitutive condi tions" (1987a:274). This results in a confused mixture of empiricist ontology with an idealist concept of transcendental synthesis.

For Habermas this means that even Foucault, like Marx and every other major nineteenth- and twentieth-century theorist, has not escaped the philosophy of the subject; the concept of power that unites both strains of genealogy is itself taken from this philosophy. Foucault's theory of power therefore does not lead him out of the aporias of the modern human sciences, as he hoped. The fact that Foucault's concept of power is basically subjectless, that it is a structuralist concept that denies the reality of subjective agency, means only that Foucault has reversed the terms of a subjectivist framework, which is by no means to escape from it. Such an escape, Habermas believes, requires direct reference to the communicative activity of an intersubjective lifeworld. Here, subjects adopt not only cognitive relationships regulated by the truth of judgments, and practical relationships regulated by the success of actions, but also communicative relationships guided by normative consensus. Since neither Marx nor Foucault take this turn—Marx decenters the subject in relation to social classes without explicitly reconstructing the logic of communication and Foucault destroys the subject without reconstructing it as a communicatively competent social being and then resurrects it in individualist form—they remain bound to the philosophy of the subject. Only a paradigm shift to a theory of communicative action can truly dispel the doublets haunting the philosophy of consciousness in its modern and postmodern forms. Habermas claims that doubling is unavoidable in the observer framework, since there is no possible intersubjective mediation between the transcendental and empirical "I." In the shift to a linguistically generated intersubjectivity, however, the ego stands in an interpersonal relationship with others and can thereby see itself from the point of view of the other (1987a: 297), a perspective that is crucial for Habermas' discourse ethics (see Habermas 1990).

Hence, Habermas executes a deconstructive, immanent critique of genealogy to show it is overtaken by the same problems that Foucault found to haunt the human sciences. "To the extent that [genealogy] retreats into the reflectionless objectivity of a nonparticipatory, ascetic decription of kaleidoscopically changing practices of power, genealogical historiography emerges from its cocoon as precisely the presentistic, relativistic, cryptonormative illusory science that it does not want to be" (1987a: 275-276). Like Nietzsche and Adorno and Horkheimer, Foucault also is trapped in the aporia of a totalizing critique of reason. When rational argument is employed to explain the corruption of all reason, and when demystified critical consciousness deplores the total mystification of thought, critique becomes fundamentally incoherent and reason turns against itself. Thus, from Habermas' perspective, neither Marx nor Foucault, prima facie two of the most radical critics of modern thought, escape its fundamental problems, a move that Habermas thinks only he himself achieves through the framework of communicative action.

Although Habermas finds some value in Foucault's descriptions of modern power, he claims that Foucault's work is merely another false way out of the critique of subject-centered reason, a postmodern dead end. The failure of Foucault's theory points to the exhaustion of the philosophy of the subject and the need for a new communicative action framework. Habermas notes that Foucault admits to the incoherencies of his thought, but does not attempt to resolve them or draw any consequences from them. Consequently, he feels that Foucault cannot adequately address the substantive problems that arise with respect to key issues: the interpretation of social reality, the rejection of universal validity claims, and the normative justification of critique. Rather than deal with these issues, Foucault eliminates them through the effacement of the categories of meaning, validity, and value. The only way out of this impasse is to acknowledge the partisan character of all theory and to defend the normative basis of critical theory through metatheoretical means.

From Habermas' perspective, the totalizing condemnation of modernity that Foucault shares with Adorno and Horkheimer fails to do justice to its progressive aspects. Most generally, as we have seen, Habermas credits cultural modernity with separating and clarifying different logics of critique and with substituting standards of rational justification for dogma and prejudice. In each sphere of reason, therefore, Habermas finds a different contribution worth preserving: advances in science and technology; universalistic foundations of law and morality; and individualist patterns of identity formation along with advances in democracy and increasingly reflective worldviews. On the dialectical logic theorized by Habermas, none of these advances are possible without the dynamic effects of the detachment of instrumental rationality from traditional meaning complexes, yet this very abstraction of political and economic forces leads to the colonization of the lifeworld. The dialectic can only be redeemed in emancipatory fashion through bringing these forces back into the control of the lifeworld once their differentiating work has been done.

Habermas credits Foucault with some impressive analyses, but claims that his theory of power "is false in its generality" (1987a:288) because it conflates the disciplinary and panoptic techniques of modernity with the whole structure of societal modernization. In his analysis of the modern criminological system, for instance, Foucault reduces law to an instrument of domination and consequently misses "the unmistakable gains in liberty and legal security, and the expansion of civil rights guarantees" (290). Similarly, Foucault sees the construction of modern sexual identities as nothing but vehicles of normalizing power, thereby "filtering out all the aspects under which the eroticization and internalization of subjective nature also meant a gain in freedom and expressive possibilities" (292).

Thus, from Habermas' perspective, Foucault reduces gains in moral-practical learning and complex processes of interiorization and individuation to an introjection of normalizing power. Against Foucault, Habermas believes that norms are not merely vehicles of domination; rather, they raise validity claims that require rational assessment and can be used to delegitimate the social system from which they originate. By equating individuation with subjectification, Foucault eliminates all aspects of self-determination and self-realization from socialization processes. This one-dimensional postmodern critique "levels down the complexity of societal modernization" (1987a:290) and distorts its fundamentally ambiguous character. In the postmodern night where all cows are black, important distinctions are imploded:

Enlightenment and manipulation, the conscious and the unconscious, forces of production and forces of destruction, expressive self-realization and repressive desublimation, effects that ensure freedom and those that remove it, truth and ideology—now all these moments flow into one another. They are not linked to one another as, say, conflicting elements in a disastrous functional context—unwilling accomplices in a contradictory process permeated by oppositional conflict. Now the differences and oppositions are so undermined and even collapsed that critique can longer discern contrasts, interests, shadings, and ambivalent tones in the flat, and faded landscapes of a totally administered, calculated, and power-laden world. (338)

An important source of the opposed attitudes of Foucault and Habermas toward modernity is their different assumptions about the nature of discourse. For Foucault, intersubjective communication takes place against the background of power struggles where discourse is constituted by truth claims that legitimate forms of power. Through discourse, different subjects and social groups vie for power over one another. Habermas acknowledges these forms of conflict and struggle, but claims that language is fundamentally oriented toward achieving clear, sincere, and truthful communication and reaching an understanding.

The different approaches of Habermas and Foucault over modernity are replicated on a larger scale in their conceptions of social evolution or history. They are equally unsympathetic to "philosophies of history" that seek a unifying principle that guides and unifies the whole process of history in a teleologically guaranteed movement toward emancipation. But while Foucault rejects all forms of historical metanarratives that attempt to discern a coherent pattern of historical development with progressive tendencies, Habermas seeks to construct a new theory of historical evolution that grasps the progressive development of technical and moral-prac tical knowledge. Thus, with the philosophes, Kant, Hegel, Marx, and the Western Marxist tradition, Habermas believes that the developmental patterns of history represent not simply blind movement, but progress. Like Hegel and Marx, Habermas understands this progress dialectically, that is, he sees the emergence of freedom in history to be inseparable from the dynamics of alienation and domination. Marx and Habermas nevertheless believe that the negative aspects of this movement, while historically necessary, eventually become obsolete and therefore can be historically superseded.

Thus, from Habermas' perspective, Foucault negates the progressive aspects of historical development. If Heidegger and Derrida attempt to destroy metaphysics; Foucault seeks to destroy historiography by dissolving history into a plurality of epistemes and power formations. For the image of a dialectical succession of progressive historical epochs, Foucault substitutes the image of a kaleidoscope of purely random patterns of movement (see Foucault 1977:154). Attacking standard historiography and its linear narratives that emphasize continuity between eras, Foucault goes to the opposite extreme and adopts a "nominalism" that obliterates progress, evolution, and any form of historical pattern, continuity, and order. "History in the singular has to be dissolved, not indeed into a manifold of narrative histories [such as Habermas seeks], but into a plurality of irregularly emerging and disappearing islands of discourse.the space of history is seamlessly filled by the absolutely contingent occurence of the disordered flaring up and passing away of new formations of discourse. No place is left for any overarching meaning in this chaotic multitude of past totalities of discourse" (Habermas 1987a:251, 253). Foucault's theory prohibits the universality and developmental continuities

Habermas thinks are necessary for the grounding of social theory and the advancement of human freedom.


The debate between Habermas and Foucault is one of the most important encounters in contemporary theory. At stake are crucial questions concerning whether or not critique can and should seek a normative grounding; the viability of modern ideals of truth, rationality, justice, and progress; and the possibility and desirability of creating a consensual, rational community that can overcome endemic social conflict and relations of hierarchy and domination.24 While I find Habermas' framework superior to Foucault's in its detail, dialectical sensibility, and attention to methodological and normative issues that social theory ignores at great cost, I also think that Habermas himself has not sufficiently escaped the reductionist and metaphysical horizons of modern thought, and that many deficiencies in his work can be illuminated through Foucault's positions. Typically, readings of Foucault and Habermas are caricatured, one-sided defenses of one position over the other; I shall try to show here and in the next chapter that there are surprising similarities between their two positions and that there can be a productive rapproachment between their approaches, which is not to say an undisturbed synthesis.25

Foucault denies there can be any basis for objective descriptive statements of social reality or universal normative statements that are not socially conditioned and locally bound. He tries to show that all norms, values, beliefs, and truth claims are relative to the discursive framework within which they originate. Any attempt to write or speak about the nature of things is made from within a rule-governed episteme that predetermines what kinds of statements are true or meaningful. All forms of consciousness, therefore, are sociohistorically determined and relative to specific discursive conditions. There is no absolute, unconditioned, transcendental stance from which to grasp what is good, right, or true. Foucault refuses to specify what is true because he believes that there are no objective grounds of knowledge; he refuses to state what is good or right because he thinks there is no universal standpoint from which to speak. Universal statements merely disguise the will to power of specific interests; all knowledge is perspectival in character. For postmodern theorists like Foucault, the appeal to foundations is necessarily metaphysical and assumes the fiction of an Archimedean point outside of language and social conditioning.

Habermas rightly finds something puzzling in an approach that raises truth claims while destroying a basis for belief in truth, that takes normative positions while suppressing the values to which they are committed. For critique to be meaningful, it seems it must preserve at least one standard by which to judge and evaluate; Foucault's total critique turns against itself and calls all rational standards into question. Foucault's position appears to resemble the fool sawing off the branch on which he sits.

Habermas rightly concludes that Foucault, in dissolving all social phenomena in the acid bath of power and domination, prevents critical theory from drawing crucial distinctions, such as those "between just and unjust social arrangements, legitimate and illegitimate uses of political power, strategic and cooperative interpersonal relations, coersive and consensual measures" (McCarthy 1991:54). One cannot say, for example, that one regime of power is any better or worse than another, only that they are different—"Another power, another knowledge" (Foucault 1979: 226). Since ruling powers attempt to erase such distinctions, or to present injustice as justice, falsehood as truth, and domination as freedom, Fou cault's position unwittingly supports the mystifications of Orwellian doublespeak, now more rife than ever, and blocks the discriminations necessary for social critique. One cannot, at least with any force or authority, claim that the Gulf War was an unjust not a just war, as one has no means to set the record straight against the distortions of ideologues like Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich. If there are no standards or right, then, with Thrasymacus and Hobbes, we can conclude might is as right as anything. There can be no ideology critique where there is no distinction between true and false. The normative character of Foucault's own work is not mitigated by his refusal to confront it explicitly. The problem becomes glaring in his later work, where he employs normative terms such as liberty and autonomy but cannot state what we should be free for. Foucault's antinormative stance therefore forces him into vague and cryptic formulations that are slogans at best.

As discussed in Chapter 2, a central reason why Foucault eschews normative positions is because he wishes to renounce the role of the universal intellectual who legislates values. For Foucault, the task of the genealogist is to raise problems, not to give solutions; to shatter the old values, not to create new ones. Any stronger, more prescriptive role, Foucault argues, can only augment existing relations of power and reproduce hierarchical divisions between rulers and ruled. While Habermas does not acknowledge these important concerns of Foucault, he is not unaware of the potential dangers of intellectuals taking normative positions. With the key difference that Habermas believes in universal values, he adopts a position similar to Foucault's "specific intellectual" in defining the role of the critical theorist as promoting enlightenment and critical thought without creating divisions between the theoretical specialist and the layperson. From Habermas' perspective, we can say that Foucault's error is to confuse provisional normative statements for dogmatic ones, to conflate suggestions to be dialogically debated with finalized creeds to be imposed, to fail to see that universal values can be the products not only of power or ideology but also of consensual, rational, and free choice.

In fact, there is evidence that Foucault holds a similar position, that his intention is not to renounce normative discourse in general, but only the normative pronouncements of intellectuals, or, more restrictively, of Foucault himself, in order to allow for individual and public choice and debate. Thus, while Foucault refuses to say whether or or not democracy is "better than" totalitarianism, he does not prohibit this distinction from being made by others: "I do not wish, as an intellectual, to play the moralist or prophet. I don't want to say that the Western countries are better than the ones of the Eastern bloc, etc. The masses have come of age, politic ally and morally. They are the ones who've got to choose individually and collectively" (1991:172).

Foucault not only repudiates a Baudrillardian cynicism toward the masses, he approaches a Habermasian emphasis on communicative rationality within an intersubjective context. But to avoid the problems associated with speaking for others, we need not adopt a "crypto-normative" position, if we can now still accurately characterize Foucault's stance in such a manner. Within Habermas' democratically oriented communicative context, Foucault's concerns may not be applicable and the normative proposals of the specific intellectual may actually help to undermine power, promote new forms of thought, and engender new forms of freedom. There is no reason why prescriptive or normative statements need be anything but provisional statements, "tools" for further thought and struggle. How effective would a movement like the United Farm Workers be, for example, if Caesar Chavez (while not a self-described intellectual, certainly a leader of the people) refused to make normative pronouncements? How more more limited would have been his charismatic influence? How impotent his impassioned speeches about justice and workers' rights?

Habermas fails to see that Foucault is not only a "crypto-normativist," but is also a cryptorelativist. Habermas wrongly claims that Foucault reduced knowledge to power; rather, Foucault granted the possibility of objective analysis and distinguished between different kinds of knowledge. While Foucault sees knowledge and power as interlocking fields, it is a vulgar reading to argue that he reduces knowledge to power, to transform the mark between power/knowledge into a sign of identity. As Foucault stated, "When I read.the thesis, 'Knowledge is power,' or 'Power is knowledge," I begin to laugh, since studying their relation is precisely my problem. If they were identical, I would not have to study them and I would be spared a lot of fatigue as a result. The very fact that I pose the question of their relation proves clearly that I do not identify them" (1988d:43).

While knowledge and power exist in a circular and mutually reinforcing relation, and even the most abstract of knowledges are ultimately connected to power formations (as physics and mathematics are indispensible to rocket science and hence to war), it does not follow that all forms of knowledge are directly reducible to mere power effects or domination mechanisms, that they have no truth status or objectivity whatsoever, and that some forms of knowledge cannot be deployed against systems of domination, as Foucault tries to do with his own genealogical studies. Foucault believes that highly formalized natural and mathematical theories can be sufficiently distant from politics to acquire a valid kind of objectivity. In The Archaeology of Knowledge, he states that while discourses such as political economy may be ridden with "ideology," "this is not a sufficiently good reason to treat the totality of their statements as being undermined by error, contradiction, and a lack of objectivity" (1972: 186). In one of his last interviews, he states that "mathematics is linked in a certain way and without impairing its validity, to games and institutions of power" (quoted in Gutting 1989:276). He even grants fields of knowledge such as psychiatry a degree of "scientific validity." These qualifications in no way compromise Foucault's emphasis that forms of knowledge are related to forms of power, since he argues that knowledge can be both scientific and objective in character and be part of a disciplinary apparatus.26 Foucault does not ask scientists to abandon "truth and method"; rather, he asks them only to acknowledge the political character of all knowledge and to be sensitive to the ways in which knowledge and truth effects are intertwined with power effects. Part of the problem results from the ambiguity of the term "power." Since Foucault defines power not simply as repressive but also as positive and productive, power/knowledge can inform practices of resistance as well as practices of domination; knowledge can lead to autonomy instead of a normalized identity. Most generally, power refers to the ability to act and effect changes driven by certain interests; depending on what these interests are, power can secure or impede freedom.

Thus, the problem in Foucault's work is not that he reduces knowledge to power, as Habermas claims, but that he does not develop the conceptual framework with which one could distinguish between different forms of knowledge and power. Habermas elides Foucault's distinction between power and domination and misrepresents his theory of power as something omnipotent, rather than as something ubiquitous but always contested. Habermas' characterization of Foucault as a relativist is accurate only if restricted to less formal modes of knowledge or to values, norms, and beliefs.27 But Foucault doesn't provide an account for what constitutes objective knowledge or why the social sciences in general could not also achieve some degree of objectivity, as is established, for instance, in a pragmatic community of inquirers. Ironically, in granting objectivity to the more formal sciences, without analyzing the ways in which even "observational statements" are theory-laden, Foucault regresses behind the hermeneutic position and the self-understanding of contemporary science. Ultimately, he reproduces the old dualism of explanation versus interpretation.

It is a virtue of Habermas' work that it supplies a more differentiating account of various forms of rationality—some of which inform practices of domination and others of which have liberatory potential—and to develop a more adequate hermeneutic theory that applies to all the sciences. Like Foucault, Habermas sees that knowledge is not pure, but rather is informed by different "interests," is historically situated, and is employed in the service of power. But Habermas distinguishes between an instrumental rationality that seeks to dominate the social and natural world, a hermeneutic rationality that seeks to interpret past cultures, and a critical or emancipatory reason that seeks to raise validity claims and promote human freedom and autonomy. From Habermas' standpoint, we can see that Foucault's argument that modernity is characterized by a plurality of rationalities is only a pseudo-plurality of different institutional forms of instrumental reason itself. Foucault could have avoided the problems in his position with the Weberian distinction between social and cultural rationalization, which plays a major role in Habermas' work, in addition to a metatheory that identifies and justifies what counts as an advance in freedom rather than domination.

Foucault's initial totalizing rejection of reason prevents him from making such differentiations. Habermas correctly points out, for example, that Foucault does not account for the critical transformations in the social sciences in the 1970s, where "objectifying approaches no longer dominate the field [and] were competing instead with hermeneutical and critical approaches that were tailored in their field of knowledge to possibilities of application other than manipulation of self and others" (Habermas 1987a: 272-273). Habermas does not see, however, that Foucault did look favorably toward the emergence of the countersciences, insofar as they abandoned anthropologism and allowed for a posthumanist conception of the subject to emerge. Yet, here again, Foucault did not give any explicit substantive or positive appraisal of them because of the normative deficit of his theory. Foucault elides the distinction between norms and normalization; Habermas, by contrast, attempts to show how certain social norms make rational claims on a formally based democratic system that can be rationally assessed, used as critical tools in an immanent critique, and transformed into claims that demand redemption in a postnormalizing social order. But Habermas needs to absorb more of a Foucauldian emphasis on power in the medium of morality, knowledge, discourse, and communication.28 Habermas' analysis of purposive-rational action yields the concepts of "instrumental action," oriented to control of the natural world, and "strategic action," oriented to following rules of rational choice with respect to influencing the decisions of rational opponents. Habermas also has a concept of "communicative action" to analyze interactions oriented to intersubjective understanding and consensus. Yet he does not have a concept for grasping interaction, norms, and communication themselves as forms of power. The general phrase "colonization of the lifeworld" comes close, but it is confined to the macrolevel of society and is vague in nature.

In other ways, however, Habermas' account of rationality is superior to both Marx and Foucault insofar as he overcomes Marx's uncritical attitude to instrumental rationality and science, while avoiding Foucault's conflation of rationality with domination. His differentiated analysis of spheres of rationality incorporates Foucault's appeal to the expressiveaesthetic dimension of cultural modernity, but without hypostatizing it in the dubious form of an emancipatory Other of reason or hyperindividualized self. Moreover, Habermas develops an account of the logic of communicative rationality suppressed by both theorists. It is Habermas' claim that neither Marx nor Foucault could grasp the normative content of modernity released by communicative rationality because they filter out all dimensions of reason except truth and efficiency (1987a:320). Indeed, Habermas's theory of communicative rationality inescapably trumps any general argument postmodernists could make against it, since whoever strays into the realm of argumentative discourse and wishes to communicate and validate an argument cannot avoid at least implicit reference to the norms of argumentation itself, such as Habermas clarifies in his theory. Any serious argument is always already oriented to validity claims and the intersubjective recognition on which possible consensus relies.

As we have seen in the previous chapter, however, Foucault began to move away from a totalizing critique of modernity, rationality, and subjectivity in his later work. In affirming the critico-historical spirit of the modern era, the rational project of critique, the abilities of subjects to free themselves from oppressive values and practices and to constitute their own identities in a space of freedom, Foucault's analysis becomes less totalizing, more dialectical, and moves closer to Habermas' project. Unlike Baudrillard, Lyotard, and other radical postmodern theorists, Foucault ultimately does not seek to escape from Enlightenment and modern theory, but rather, like Habermas, attempts to work critically within it.

Foucault himself acknowledged the affinities between his work and that of the Frankfurt School.29 He explicitly aligns his work with a broad tradition of modern critical theory that initiates historical reflection on the nature of the Enlightenment: "From Hegel through Nietzsche or Max Weber to Horkheimer or Habermas, hardly any philosophy has failed to confront this same question [Was ist Aufklarung?], directly or indirectly" (1984:32). Foucault even chastises himself for his initial ignorance of the Frankfurt School:

If I had been familiar with the Frankfurt School. I would not have said a number of stupid things that I did say and I would have avoided many if the detours which I made while trying to pursue my own humble path— when, meanwhile, avenues had been opened up by the Frankfurt School. It is a strange case of non-penetration between two very similar types of thinking which is explained, perhaps, by that very similarity, Nothing hides the fact of a problem in common better than two similar ways of approaching it. (1988d: 26)

Most likely, Foucault is referring to their shared concern with a critique of reason, the direct parallels between the notions of the disciplinary and one-dimensional or administered society, and the rejection of progressivist views of history.30 But while Foucault moved toward a qualified analysis of rationality, he never developed a precise theory of different aspects of rationality such as Habermas has attempted. And while he came to align his work with the critico-historical outlook of modernity, he never offered any concrete dialectical analyses of modernity like those of Marx and Habermas.31 Foucault never renounced his earlier characterization of modernity as a "disciplinary archipelago" and never specified positive aspects of modern law, science, sexuality, and so on. Hence Habermas' critique of Foucault's account of modernity is valid for Foucault's later work also.

Ultimately, there is an extreme categorical poverty in Foucault's analysis of modernity, rationality, and subjectivity, resulting from the fact that, unlike Habermas, he rejects important contributions of modern social theory. He consequently remains trapped, like Adorno, within the total and negative critique that leads to critical reason renouncing its own efficacy. Foucault opened up a logical space for a differentiating and positive account of modernity and its forms of rationality, but he did not fill it with substantive and detailed analysis.

Habermas' account of history is superior to Foucault's insofar as he can identify real advances in the human learning process that constitute bonafide forms of "progress." With Marx, Habermas thinks that the vision of human freedom is not simply utopian because objective tendencies exist in the present form of social existence that allow for democratization, autonomy, and emancipation. But while Foucault misses the extent to which some developmental patterns in history suggest forms of progress in democracy and the learning process, Habermas overlooks the dialectic of historical continuity and discontinuity in Foucault's works. Foucault's account of history is not as aleatory and nominalistic as Habermas believes.32 There is a strong narrative component in Foucault's work that tells the story of the emergence of normalizing and disciplinary mechanisms. From Greek to Roman to Christian and modern cultures, Foucault describes how technologies of the self were overcome by technologies of domination and how new technologies of the self again become possible in a posthumanist, postmodern era. Foucault rejects "total history" in favor of a "general history" that allows for historical continuities and regularities. These pertain, however, mainly to continuity in forms of domina tion and struggle, rather than developing tendencies of freedom. Yet, by identifying with the Enlightenment tradition of critique over premodern forms of thought rooted in tradition and religion, Foucault has an implicit theory of progress in history toward greater levels of learning and freedom, but he altogether lacks the means to contextualize and analyze such a development.

While Habermas is right to point to substantive continuities and emancipatory tendencies in history, his attempt to reconstruct these phenomena is highly flawed. As noted by numerous critics, there is a strong tension, if not contradiction, between the transcendental-logical and historical-empirical aspects of human interests that the phrase "quasitranscendental" highlights but does not dispel (see McCarthy 1978, Thomas 1979, and Roderick 1986). For Habermas, knowledge-constitutive interests are both immanent and transcendent in character, they both mediate the historical self-constitution of the species and and are formed by it; they constitute our knowledge a priori, although they arose contingently in the natural development of the species. Human interests both mediate social activity and are formed by it; they are both "partially" transcendental and partially immanent in history.

This tension reflects the conflict between the Kantian and Hegelian/ Marxian elements in Habermas' work. Despite his historical analysis of advances in learning, Habermas finds it necessary to postulate an ahistorical foundation for critique. Despite his claims to materialism and scientificity, his theory lapses into idealism by positing pregiven interests, Habermas' claim to an emancipatory interest is unfounded and dogmatic, since he never shows that such an interest actually exists. Given the fact (such as is theorized by Reich, Fromm, Adorno, and others) that human beings can prefer submission and domination to freedom, the burden is on Habermas is to prove that such claims are not counterfactual. Despite his confrontation with Freud, Habermas' theory is informed by a naive psychological rationalism articulated by Locke and other Enlightenment theorists that is overconfident about the ability of reason to influence individual life and social organization. The subrational logic that Foucault finds uncovered by Bataille and the countersciences provides a much-needed counterbalance to Habermas' rationalism. Habermas rejects "the fiction that Socratic dialogue is possible everywhere and at any time" (1971:314), but he retains the Socratic myth that the attainment of rationality suffices to promote interests in emancipation and understanding and that conflicting values can be harmonized in the light of truth.

Against Habermas' essentializing claim for an innate interest in emancipation, McCarthy notes, "The interest in emancipation is not proper to reason as such, but only to a particular employment of reason: critical self-reflection" (1978:101-102). Habermas later assented to this point (1982:233), but without seeing that critical self-reflection is a thoroughly historical phenomenon. As better seen by Marx, Dewey, and others, the "interest in emancipation" emerges only within modernity and hence is a relatively recent historical phenomenon. Through appeal to abstract, universal principles, rooted in a transhistorical subject, Habermas has hypostatized the historical forces underlying social systems and the cognitive interests they create, and himself succumbs to the philosophy of the subject.

This ahistorical move is explicit in Habermas. Rather than start with "concrete ideals immanent in traditional forms of life," he states that critical theory must proceed "reconstructively, that is unhistorically" (1987c: 383). Responding to criticisms of his quasi-transcendental claim, Habermas reformulated his theory in favor of an empirical reconstruction of "universal competencies" of communication. Yet, as Roderick (1986) notes, Habermas did not substantively modify the transcendental character of his theory. In general, the tendency of Habermas' work is to bury concrete social reality under the weight of abstract categories; his approach suffers from what Adorno has termed "conceptual fetishism" and "surplus of method" (1973:8).

The core deficiencies of Habermas' theory—its ahistorical thrust, teleological biases, transcendental subject, hyperabstraction, naive rationalism, and overemphasis on communication—can be illuminated and, in some cases, overcome through Foucault's postmodern orientation. An important thrust of Foucault's work has been to deontologize and detranscendentalize Western theory, to show that alleged essences and universals are constituted in local and contingent historical contexts. Hence Foucault substitutes concrete sociohistorical analyses for ontologizing and universalizing schemes. Foucault too posits an a priori, but this is a "historical a priori" that analyzes how historically constituted rules of discourse shape different understandings of biology, work, and language, along with various historically shaped values and interests.

Habermas tries to implicate Foucault in the aporia of a transcendental-empirical doublet, but his critique only goes through with an equivocation on the word transcendental. This term can refer either to a Kantian attempt to escape history or a contextualist move to identify the historical preconditions of critique. Foucault's transcendentalism is the latter kind. Habermas is on safer ground when he points to the tension in Foucault between his positivist and critical attitudes. In fact, from a Foucauldian point of view, it is Habermas who is impaled on the horns of the transcendental-empirical. In trying to reconcile the transcendental and historical aspects of thought, rather than abandoning transcendentalism altogether in favor of a strictly historical analysis, Habermas remains within the metaphysical horizons of modern thought, trapped within its doublets.

Nor has Habermas altogether escaped the teleological framework of modern historiography. He claims that a "telos of mutual understanding is built into linguistic communication" (1986:99) and that the telos of social evolution is toward rational autonomy. Moreover, he finds that "there is a universal code of moral intuition in all times and in all societies" (206), which stems from the unavoidable presuppositions of communication. The speculative, ahistorical, universalizing, and teleological logic of Habermas' theory leads him to homogenize the plurality of discursive and historical voices. He fails to give sufficient attention to the irreconcilable forms of conflict articulated through discourse, which cannot be forced into any easy "consensus" (or, certainly not through simple rationalist appeals to logic and argumentation), and to the vastly different linguistic and moral structures of various cultures such as are theorized by Sapir, Whorf, and others (see Whorf 1956).

Thus, some of the shortcomings of Habermas' work are illuminated by Foucault's critique. A postmodern critique can push Habermas' thought further in the direction of diversity, contingency, historical specificity, and concrete practice. Given the Hegelian character of Habermas' efforts to synthesize the insights of various philosophical theories, his own perspective should be open to the insights of postmodern critiques; instead, he reduces the postmetaphysical sensibility of postmodern theory to a species of conservativism. While there are important analogies between post-modern theory and the counter-Enlightenment (see Chapter 4), there are also important differences. Habermas' acute dialectical approach salvages nuggets of value in almost every theory he considers, even functionalism and positivism, except postmodern theory. His fear of irrationalist, counter-Enlightenment discourse is so great that it blinds him to a more balanced account of postmodern discourse that could grasp its positive and potentially progressive contributions to critical theory.33 His critique of Foucault is as totalizing and one-dimensional as the postmodern positions he rejects. He fails to give a sufficiently complex account of Foucault's work that combines various elements into a new kind of critique that issues a strong challenge to modern theory and its transcendental impulses. In general, Habermas' tendentious strategy is to dismiss all positions that do not agree with his theory of communicative action.

By subsuming postmodern theory to conservativism, Habermas fails to grasp the ambiguity of postmodern theory itself. While there are indeed some conservative aspects to postmodern theory, such as its irrationalism and individualism, there are also important critiques that are similar to those of critical theory and that also add new critical perspectives to social theory and historiography. Habermas doesn't see that post-modern theorists are not all of one stripe and that the work of any one "postmodern" theorist (like Foucault) is itself ambiguous and multivalent in character. Where some postmodern theorists such as Baudrillard have the intention of subverting the project of critical theory, others such as Laclau and Mouffe (1985) share Habermas' goal of reconstructing modern discourse through postmodern insights (see Best and Kellner 1991).


The pursuit of happiness might one day mean something different—for example, not accumulating material objects of which one disposes privately, but bringing about social relations in which mutuality predominates and satisfaction does not mean the triumph of one over the repressed needs of the other.

—HABERMAS (1979:199)

As is discussed above, there are various, interrelated narrative threads in Habermas' historical analyses: (1) a theory of social evolution that describes the development of both cognitive-instrumental and moral-practical reason; (2) a history of modernity that grasps the differentiation of spheres of validity and rationality and how the political, economic, and scientific subsystems of modernity colonize the lifeworld; (3) a genealogy of post-modern theory and other critiques of subject-centered reason in order to show how an intersubjective framework of communicative rationality was opened with Hegel and Marx, but was closed in favor of different variations on the modern philosophy of the subject.

Each narrative has a different purpose. The metanarrative of social evolution accounts for the growing autonomy of purposive-rational action from the communicative context in which it was initially embedded. It is necessary to grasp the developmental tendencies of contemporary society in order selectively to advance communicative over instrumental rationality and to regain proper balance, now in a differentiated way, between the different spheres of value. The genealogy of moral and normative consciousness inquires into the evolution of critical consciousness in general, as it moves from dogmatic to critical stages. Habermas shows that the political consciousness Marx and Foucault take for granted in their call for critique and enlightenment is the product of a long historical evolution that requires analysis and development in its own right. The genealogy of postmodern theory, finally, is intended to short-circuit the ideological spell of the most powerful contemporary rival of critical theory. Habermas tries to show that postmodernism is merely recycled counter-Enlightenment ideology that is devoid of conceptual coherence. By subsuming postmodern theory to modern subjectivism, Habermas tries to show that the paradigm of consciousness is bankrupt and that social theory requires a shift to communicative action.

Despite his critique of Marx, his encounter with postmodern thought, and his move to a postmetaphysical framework, Habermas retains, with Marx, a fundamentally Hegelian vision of history as a movement of freedom through differentiation. Habermas believes that this metanarrative is empirical, falsifiable, and so nonmetaphysical. Like Marx and unlike Foucault, Habermas has a keen vision of future community and solidarity. He foresees a realm of "undisturbed intersubjectivity" (1986:125) and the generation of "new forms of solidaristic collective which offer a context within which one's own identity and that of others can be unfolded less problematically, and in a less damaged way" (144). Yet, through Weber's influence, Habermas thinks Marx was overly optimistic about the degree of democracy, reconciliation, and transparency possible in highly complex modern societies; he therefore qualifies the Hegelian vision of a perfect overcoming of contradictions and antagonisms. But Habermas is far from embracing Foucault's Nietzschean vision of history as the perpetuation of conflict and antagonism, and he rejects Foucault's individualism. Habermas believes that key oppositions must be eliminated, the most important being that between the general and the private interest. This can be accomplished through the recuperation of communicative rationality, which informs every speech act that seeks to communicate meaning and which provides the normative basis for the construction of a democratic social order.

In many ways, Habermas has advanced beyond Marx and Foucault. He undertakes an important defense of the Enlightenment that avoids Marx's uncritical acceptance of key tenets and Foucault's totalizing rejection of rationality. His shift to a communicative framework helps to overcome the philosophy of consciousness and to analyze the realm of symbolic interaction untheorized by Marx and denigrated by Foucault as nothing but a terrain of struggle and domination. But Habermas does not completely overcome problems associated with the Enlightenment such as ahistoricism, foundationalism, abstract universalism, and teleology. Although he undialectically repudiates postmodern theory, it is precisely that framework which offers important resources to overcome problems in Habermas and to advance more satisfactorily his goal of reconstructing and defending "the project of modernity." His genealogy of postmodern theory is a tendentious reading that sees only errors, irrationalism, and contradictions. Similarly, many of the flaws and excesses of his communication theory are corrected by returning to Marx's theory, which he attempts to transcend for a new paradigm.

In comparing the methods, visions, values, and politics of Marx, Foucault, and Habermas we see that no one theorist alone offers satisfactory positions and that each position has major strengths and weaknesses. We also see that there is no necessary opposition between modern and post-modern theories, that there is a great deal of diversity within each tradi tion, and that there are important continuities, as well as discontinuities, between both camps. My final discussion thus is concerned with the contributions and limitations of each thinker, and of modern and postmodern theories more generally.


1. It needs to said, however, that Habermas' tenure in the Marxist tradition was longer and more profound than Foucault's. Habermas continued to identify himself as a Marxist at least until the late 1970s, whereas Foucault broke with Marxism by the early 1950s, well before his major books. Unlike Habermas, Foucault never characterized his project as trying to reconstruct historical materialism, and hence he could never be seen as a neo-Marxist. The degree of their respective allegiance to Marxist ideas is illuminated by the fact that Foucault praised the New French Philosophers, while Habermas denounced them (1986:70).

2. "Language is as old as consciousness, language is practical consciousness that exists also for other men, and for that reason alone it really exists for me personally as well; language, like consciousness, only arises from the need, the necessity, of intercourse with other men" (Marx and Engels 1978:158).

3. These do not, of course, exhaust the list of influences, nor do they remain within respective national boundaries. Just as Foucault is strongly influenced by Nietzsche, for example, so Habermas draws from Durkheim.

4. While Baudrillard (1987) is right that Foucault did not confront the most recent forms of power that devolved around media and images, Foucault did take up the hegemony of print mass media as a practical problem in his journalistic projects (see Eribon 1991). Foucault makes the false exclusive claim that modern society is one of surveillance, rather than one of hyperreality or spectacle (1977: 217). For a good example of Habermas' awareness of the problems with mass media, see (1986:178, 1994:6).

5. Here Dewey's work was also a decisive influence on Habermas. On the similarities and differences between Dewey and Habermas, see Antonio and Kellner (1992).

6. Habermas' initial failure to distinguish between reflection as analysis of the conditions of knowledge and as critical scrutiny of society brought him a great deal of criticism. For discussion of this point, see McCarthy (1981: 96ff.); for Habermas' own treatment of this distinction, see the introduction to Theory and Practice and the "A Postscript to Knowledge and Human Interests" (1973b).

7. See, for example, Habermas (1979:139).

8. In fact, Habermas claims that evolution proceeds along three lines: production, socialization, and steering capacity (or power), which is the ability of society to maintain itself in the midst of internal and external changes. Below, I only focus on the first two lines of development, although I argue that the dimension of power is obscured.

9. Purposive-rational action is subdivided into instrumental and strategic action. Action is "instrumental" when it follows technical rules that can be appraised in terms of the efficiency of their intervention in the world; it is "strategic" when it follows rules of rational choice that can be appraised in terms of the efficiency of influencing the decisions of other individuals (see Habermas 1970:92).

10. This term is meant to include stages in technical learning, but at a more abstract level. Where some theorists have tried to refine the notion of a mode of production by introducing distinctions relating to forms of private property or differences in exploitation, Habermas' fear is that this strategy will jeopordize historical materialism and the very idea of developmental tendencies in history: "These general sociological perspectives certainly permit a concrete description of a given economic structure, but they lead to a broader range rather than a deeper analysis. The result of this procedure would be a pluralistic compartmentalization of modes of production and a weakening of their developmental logic. At the end of this inductive path lies a surrender of the concept of the history of the species— and thus of historical materialism. We cannot exclude a priori that anthropological-historical research might one day make this necessary. But in the meantime, it seems to me that the opposite direction has not yet been sufficently explored" (1979:153). Thus, Habermas is concerned to preserve the substantive narrative dimensions of diachronic analysis and to avoid a nominalist position that fails to see general patterns and progressive developments in history.

11. Habermas intends to grant communicative action more causal efficacy than has been granted by Marx or the Marxist tradition, without compromising the intended "materialist" character of his theory: "The analysis of developmental dynamics is 'materialist' insofar as it makes reference to crisis-producing systems problems in the domain of production and reproduction" (1979:123). It is only that the causes for social change are sought now in a number of factors, in a wide range of contingent factors that include not only institutional systems organized around technology and economics, but also forms of moral-practical consciousness.

12. The inconsistencies and shifts in Habermas' work seemingly may be accounted for by the fact that the more he critically interrogates Marxism, the more convinced he is of the importance of interaction over work and the irredeemable deficiencies of Marxist theory. But this argument suffers from the fact that one finds such inconsistencies in the same essay (see 1979:130177).

13. Like Foucault, Habermas attempts to distinguish different social formations in terms of the abstract rules that allegedly condition thought, but he is even

more vague than Foucault as to what these rules and their possible origins are.

14. To complexify this scheme, Habermas argues that different stages of consciousness exist at different levels of the same principle of organization (see 1979: 154-155).

15. "Natural science will eventually subsume the science of man just as the science of man will subsume natural science: there will be a single science" (Marx, quoted in Habermas 1971:46). Habermas does not fail to emphasize the strong positivist overtones of this statement that sharply conflict with the "critical" dimensions of Marx's project and his critique of capitalist ideology that itself seeks to subsume human relations under natural laws (see Chapter 4).

16. Sensat (1979:117) argues that, read in its proper context, such a passage criticizes technocratic ideology by underlining the contradictory nature of capitalism, such as is latent in the two-fold nature of the commodity as both use and exchange value (for a similar contextualizing argument see Cleaver [1979]). Such a passage, therefore, does not represent a departure from the demystifying tasks of the critique of political economy. From such a passage, Sensat denies the Habermasian-Wellmerian thesis that Marx's work is filled with tensions. Read in their proper context, he argues, Marx never separates production and socialization, science and critique, and hence never succumbs to technocratic positions. But Sensat glosses over Marx's grosser positivistic remarks and hence does not give the complete story. Against Sensat, I side more with Habermas and Wellmer, but unlike Habermas and Wellmer I believe that Marx's technocratic "tendencies" are limited more to rhetoric and scientistic misrepresentations of his own work than to actual models or substantive positions.

17. As Habermas says, "I do not mind at all calling both phenomena [work and interaction] praxis. Nor do I deny that normally instrumental action is embedded communicative action (productive action is socially organized, in general). But I see no reason why we should not adequately analyze a complex, i.e., dissect it into its parts" (1973b:186).

18. "So far nothing seems to suggest that alternative natural sciences can be developed in a non-objectifying attitude" (Habermas 1986:177). While very little has developed in the realm of action, Habermas ignores an emerging paradigm of ecological science that belies his claim (see Griffin 1988a, 1988b; Best 1991b). In contrast to Habermas, Marcuse sought to articulate a new science and reason infused with a "new sensibility," a sensibility shaped by eros and utopia and aesthetic value. Habermas does not deny one can have an aesthetic, empathetic relation to nature (1982:243-244), only that science can provide this. For a critique of Habermas' views on nature, see Whitebook (1979); for a critical comparison of the different views of Habermas and Marcuse on science, see Alford (1985).

19. In assent with Foucault, Habermas states, "I too think that relations of power are incorporated in the least ostensive forms of communication, and that analysis of systematically distorted communication yields results analogous to Foucault's analysis of discourses" (1986:69).

20. Very little has yet been written or translated on Habermas' politics. Perhaps the best account of Habermas' political interventions is Holub's Jtirgen Habermas: Critic in the Public Sphere. There is some discussion of Habermas' intellectual and political background in Dews' edited volume, Habermas: Autonomy and Solidarity. Some of Habermas' writing on the student movements can be found in Toward a Rational Society. During the 1980s, Habermas published several volumes of political writings, Kleine politische Schriften, many of which have been translated (see Habermas 1989b). For a collection of interviews that focus on Habermas' politics, see Habermas (1994).

21. For a far more critical and shrewd account of the Gulf War, see Kellner 1992.

22. Habermas' attack on the irrationalist aspects of postmodern theory was anticipated in his late 1960s critique of the German student movements who, he claims, had rejected not just technocracy, but science, technology, and reason as such. See Habermas (1970).

23. "Baudrillard has only been able to capture the attention of those with short

memories____ As history goes over into another aggregate state, things get

hotter, not colder" (Habermas 1994:79-80). Thus, Habermas holds that momentous historical events and changes can occur, as always, while believing that the evolution of moral consciousness is largely complete, although not yet universally realized.

24. As Habermas describes (1987b), Foucault had asked him to meet with his American colleagues at a private conference in 1984 to discuss different interpretations of modernity based on Kant's essay, "Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklarung?" Foucault's death, however, made this event impossible.

25. See, for example, Rajchman's uncharitable critique of Habermas and uncritical defense of Foucault (1988). For a good example of a more balanced and nuanced approach, see Wolin (1990). Kelly (1994) has recently published an anthology of writings by Foucault, Habermas, and others that calls for an understanding of the theoretical and political issues uniting and dividing Foucault and Habermas. In his excellent concluding essay, Kelly shows that, once their positions are clarified, both Foucault and Habermas struggle with the problem of the self-referentiality of modern critique. Kelly claims, however, that Foucault's position trumps that of Habermas because of Habermas' failed transcendentalism. Kelly's defense of Foucault's pragmatism as nonrelativistic and "self-corrective" is unconvincing, however, because Foucault lacks the resources to tell us when one critique is "better" than another or when it is "corrected." Nor does Kelly see how historically constituted "universals" have an important function in social criticism (see Chapter 4), since, following Foucault, he limits them to an ideological function of legitimating contingency as necessity. Honneth (1991) provides a rigorous comparison of Foucault and Habermas as having different responses to the aporias of Adorno and Horkheimer's work. He emphasizes the strengths of each theorist, as well as their joint effort to overcome the philosophical concepts of labor that has hindered critical theory, but he favors Habermasian positions. Hoy and McCarthy (1994) square off in a

fascinating, rigorous confrontation that dramatizes the core issues dividing supporters of Habermas and Foucault.

26. Formalization does not guarantee a lack of ideology since "the role of ideology does not diminish as rigour increases and error is dissipated" (Foucault 1972:186). Foucault admits the validity of an ideology critique that shows how a form of knowlege serves the interests of a controlling group (185), but he does a different kind of ideology analysis than that of Marxism, one which operates "at the level of the positivity and the relations between the rules of formation and the structures of scientificity" (186).

27. For Habermas, relativists hold "that every possible description only mirrors a particular construction of reality that inheres gramatically in one of various linguistic worldviews. There are no standards of rationality that point beyond the local commitments of the various universes of discourse" (1992:135). With post-modernists, Habermas holds that all claims are local and context-bound, but he argues that rational claims also have a potentially context-transcendent claim to discursively grounded truth. Theorists like Foucault or Rorty are not relativists in the extreme and untenable sense that holds that all views are equally sound. Pragmatists see relativism as a pure theoretical problem that is inapplicable to an approach that debates the merits of different views, test them in practice, defends them in a local context, and chooses one view over the other based on argumentation and results. Rorty therefore distinguishes between "philosophical theories" and "real theories," the formulations of which are directly applicable to practical problems in politics, the sciences, and so on. He denies that relativism is pertinent to issues of technical or practical concern (1982:167-169). While Foucault and Rorty can debate and experiment with different theories, Habermas believes that neither has any resources with which to legitimate the values that guide their practice, to defend ethical and epistemological issues that are not resolvable into action, or to raise claims that are valid beyond a merely local context. On Habermas' understanding, therefore, they do not escape relativism. Habermas' much stronger claim is that there are epistemic, not merely pragmatic, grounds for choosing between different interpretations.

28. The inadequate term "strategic action" is as close as Habermas' terminology comes to a Foucauldian emphasis on the forms of power and domination that operate within an intersubjective context itself. I use it while understanding its limitations. Habermas needs a new term that describes language and communication itself as a fundamental medium of domination, rather than idealizing it as essentialy concerned with reaching consensus. For his clearest attempt to delineate these various concepts, see Habermas (1982: 263-264).

29. In his brief remarks on Foucault's later lecture on Kant, Habermas (1987b) takes note of Foucault's new alignment of his work within the modern tradition, but only to reassert the nature of the contradictions in Foucault's thought and to forego any sustained reflection on the similarities between their projects. Indeed, the few occasions when one comments on the other's work, they misrepresent it. Foucault chastizes Habermas for seeking a utopian model of communication (1989), failing to see that Habermas is only using

this as an ideal construct, and Habermas, as mentioned above, claims that Foucault reduces knowledge to power (1987a).

30. Foucault was not uncritical of the Frankfurt School, however. He claims that they adopted a traditional view of the subject tainted by Marxist humanism (1991:120-122). Subsequently, he sees their goal to be that of recovering a lost identity, rather than producing a wholly new subject. Adorno is certainly exempt from the former critique, and I have argued in Chapters 1 and 2 that the latter critique does not adequately represent the intentions of Marx.

31. As Foucault makes clear, however, he refuses (in another misrepresentation of Habermas' position) the "intellectual blackmail of 'being for or against the Enlightenment'" (1984:45). He also seeks "to move beyond the outside-inside alternative; we have to be at the frontiers" (45). Foucault also rejects the modern/postmodern distinction as too simple, and instead develops the distinction between the attitudes of modernity and countermodernity (39). It is clear that he himself has both.

32. There are passages supporting the aleatory reading of Foucault, such as where he states: "The world we know is not this ultimately simple configuration where events are reduced to accentuate their essential traits, their final meaning, or their initial and final value. On the contrary, it is a profusion of entangled events.. The true historical sense confirms our existence among countless lost events, without a landmark or point of reference" (1977:155). Yet, Foucault also claims: "History has no 'meaning," though that is not to say that it is absurd or incoherent. On the contrary, it is intelligible and should be susceptible of analysis down to the smallest detail— but this is in accordance with the intelligibility of struggles, of strategies and tactics" (1980a:114). Clearly, as his acutal analyses demonstrate, Foucault does find some order, pattern, or intelligibility to history, although it is the result of his own assumptions and interpretive schemes, and not a meaning inherent in history as identified by Marx and Habermas.

33. As Whitebook observes, "There is something compulsively modernistic about Habermas' project. It is as though he cannot seriously entertain any objections to the project of modernity for fear of opening the Pandora's box of irrationalist regressivism" (1981-1982:94).