"The fundamental question of the continued existence of a truth-dependent mode of socialization constitutive of society is, as one can see, not easy to answer. This could lead one to think that it is not at all a theoretically resoluble question, but a practical question: should we rationally desire that social identity be formed through the minds of socially related individuals or should it be sacrificed to the problem—real or imagined—of complexity? To pose the question in this way is, of course, to answer it. Whether the constituents of a rational form of life should be retained cannot be made the object of a rational will-formation that depends on those very constituents. This requires, in any event, an appeal to the partiality for reason. As partisanship, however, this partiality can be justified only so long as alternatives are posed within an already accustomed, shared communicative form of life. As soon as an alternative appears that breaks this circuit of predecided intersubjectivity, the only universalizable partiality—the interest in reason itself—becomes particular. Luhmann poses such an alternative: He subordinates, at the methodological level, all areas of interaction steered through discursively redeemable validity claims to systems-rational claims to power and increasing power. Such monopolistic claims of an eccentric administration permit no possibility of appeal; that is, they may not be measured against standards of practical rationality, as was the case even in the Leviathan.
This perspective leads 'old European' thought into temptation, and not for the first time. One has already accepted his opponent's point of view if one resigns before the difficulties of enlightenment, and, with the goal of a rational organization of society, withdraws into actinism—that is, if one makes a decisionistic start in the hope that retrospectively, after the successful fact, justifications will be found for the costs that have arisen. Furthermore, the partiality for reason just as little justifies the retreat to a Marxistically embellished orthodoxy, which today can lead at best to the establishment without argument of sheltered and politically ineffective subcultures. Both paths are forbidden to a practice that binds itself to a rational will, that is, that does not avoid demands for foundations, but demands theoretical clarity about what we do not know. Even if we could not know much more today than my argumentation sketch suggests—and that is little enough—this circumstance would not discourage critical attempts to expose the stress limits of advanced capitalism to conspicuous tests; and it would most certainly not paralyze the determination to take up the struggle against the stabilization of a nature-like social system over the heads of its citizens, that is, at the price of—so be it!— old European human dignity" (Habermas 1975:142-143).
1975 Legitimation Crisis. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
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