"Cultural traditions have their own, vulnerable, conditions of reproduction. They remain 'living' as long as they take shape in an unplanned, nature-like manner, or are shaped with hermeneutic consciousness. (Whereby hermeneutics, as the scholarly interpretation and application of tradition, has the peculiarity of breaking down the nature-like character of tradition as it is handed on and, nevertheless of retaining it at a reflective level.)2 The critical appropriation of tradition destroys this nature-like character in discourse. (Whereby the peculiarity of critique consists in its double function: to dissolve analytically, or in a critique of ideology, validity claims that cannot be discursively redeemed; but, at the same time, to release the semantic potentials of the tradition.)4 To this extent, critique is no less a form of appropriating tradition than hermeneutics. In both cases appropriated cultural contents retain their imperative force, that is, they guarantee the continuity of a history through which individuals and groups can identify with themselves and with one another. A cultural tradition loses precisely this force as soon as it is objectivistically prepared and strategically employed. In both cases conditions for the reproduction of cultural traditions are damaged, and the tradition is undermined. This can be seen in the museum-effect of a hedonistic historicism, as well as in the wear and tear that results from the exploitation of cultural contents for administrative or market purposes. Apparently, traditions can retain legitimizing force only as long as they are not torn out of interpretive systems that guarantee continuity and identity.
The structural dissimilarity between areas of administrative action and areas of cultural tradition constitutes, then, a systematic limit to attempts to compensate for legitimation deficits through conscious manipulation. Of course, a crisis argument can be constructed from this only in connection with the broader point that the expansion of state activity produces the side effect of a disproportionate increase in the need for legitimation. I consider a disproportionate increase probable, not only because the expansion of administratively processed matters make necessary mass loyalty for new functions of state activity, but because the boundaries of the political system vis-á-vis the cultural system shift as a result of this expansion" (Habermas 1975:70-71).
1975 Legitimation Crisis. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
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