Free Habermas and Foucault Essay Sample

The above philosophers provide an in depth understanding of the types of misuse of the power that exist within the society. Harbemas and Foucault disagreed on many fronts; however, they both agreed that the concept of political participation of the modern day needed reengineering. Harbemas is a big proponent of political participation based on communication while Foucault proposes politics on a micro level. Traditionally, politics is supposed to provide a system where the fundamental freedoms of a person are protected, at the same time, a political system is supposed to lead to self-development. Harbemas lacks confident on the political system and views it as paralyzed, as it does not attain the objectives of a political system due to bureaucracy, colonization of weaker states by stronger states and the increased interference of the state in economic affairs.

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Bureaucratization is important because it continually creates new classes of people and new areas of study. Harbemas is keen to note that people neglect their political duties at the time when the government is more concerned in the personal lives of the populace. It is ironical that people are less and less interested in a government that is more and more interested in their private lives and is constantly putting up measures that continue to infringe on this privacy. He emphasizes that the concept of civil privacy does not exist. Gender and racial prejudice characterize political communication; thus cannot be termed to be equal and just in the protection of the rights of its people. According to Harbemas, the political system is supposed to prioritize the needs of its people; however, post modern political system does not follow this principal. According to Foucault, influence, privacy, legitimacy and self-development do not describe the postmodern political system.

Harbemas and Foucault both agree that it is unfair to judge a political system by the actions of those who run it, to this end, they both view colonization as the result of several adjustments in the society. Harbemas also goes ahead to add that colonization is not always an oppressive form of governing but may at times be productive. The gender and racial norms that found in the society are because of the expectations of the people. According to Habermas, expression of public opinion through public channels, such as judiciary and parliament, constitute democracy. A key factor in expression of the needs is that it should be participatory. He identifies two forms of participatory discussions: problem solving discussions and decision oriented discussions. Public opinion expressed by the people through structured communication tools act as a guide to the two types of discussions. Harbemas understands communicative participation in a rather distinct way. Traditionally, participation is about implementing policies in democratic world with great emphasis laid on the policy making; however, Harbemas shifts emphasis from policy making to first creating a democratic atmosphere where then implementing and creating polices. Harbemas is clear that the authority figures of the society are responsible for political decision-making; never the less, the public should be engaged in informal discussions that seek to identify problems and come up with probable solutions. These informal discussions should be used in the political system as a signal of the needs of the public system and how those needs should be solved. It is not enough for these needs to be merely stated, but they should be broken down into themes with well-articulated solutions such that parliament will be hard pressed not to adopt. The central pillar of democracy is the public. If decision makers in a democracy do not consider the informal public opinion, then it fails to attain its core objective of equal participation. A political and democratic system is legitimate only when it attains this objective.

Legitimate participation is characterized by including all of the parties affected by the problem; equal chance by all the participants to present their ideas; every participant should have a well defined role; the participants should not have any power struggles among themselves, finally all participants should be clear on their goal from the beginning. Habermas would completely agree with Mario on the mobilization of university students against the “machine”; for Harbemas, inclusion and equity in the communicative structure are very important. Mario was addressing university students who were the participants of the rally as well as the people affected by the problem. Habermas, though his works have no evidence of supporting conflict, is a great supporter of participation. Mario mobilized university students thus engaging in informal participation to express their views. This, according to Harbemas, is a sign of democracy. The Harbermesian school of thought does not view the public sphere as a physical entity; instead, it defines it as any structure used to communicate well-articulated points of view as Mario’s very well articulated and topical speech demonstrated. This informal participation would act as a channel for articulating the problem to the government to resolve the problem. A clear point of divergence is that Harbemas does not view an ideal speech as realistic. Mario, in his speech, expresses his discontent on the working of the “machine”; he publicly asks that this discontent of the people concerned to be expressed openly. This is supported by Harbemas’ reason for holding informal discussions. This discussions act as a signal to the authorities on the needs of the people.

Foucault insists that where power exists then resistance is always present. Foucault’s norms are evident in his need to see that every person is seen to answer for their mistakes, and this should be done despite their status and authority.

According to Foucault, any form of government, democratic or otherwise, should allow its people to critically analyze any of its subjects or policies that may seem unfavorable to the general well being of the people. According to Foucault, a universal definition of morality does not exist; instead, history should be used to define morality. On identity, Foucault is keen to note that nothing is imperative enough on its own to serve as a basis for identity; not even the human body. Foucault proposes that principles cannot be common to everybody and in a situation where that principle is identified then it should be analyzed critically. Foucault advocates greatly for the use of history as a benchmark of our lives. He proposes that history should be used to tell apart the oppressive governments from the democracies. Foucault emphasizes that human beings are the crucial decision makers if to adopt any of the two forms of government. History and society are the only two things that Foucault considers to be real. Both Foucault and Habermas agree that the system should be regulated; however, their opinions differ because Habermas adopts a holistic view, but Foucault orients towards a genealogical perspective. Freedom is formed out of habit, according to Foucault, and it does not exist where power is absent. In order for power and freedom to exist in the same environment then there must be conflict, resistance and struggle. Foucault lacks confidence in the institutions that are founded to pursue freedom. According to Foucault, these institutions cannot guarantee freedom. He supports his proponent by giving historical examples that demonstrate the abuse of power by these institutions.

Mario and Foucault come to a consensus in Mario’s speech

Foucault advocated for every person who abuses power to be questioned and called to account. Mario echoes the same sentiments in his speech where he asks that managers owe allegiance to the public and not to the board of directors. Mario’s speech shows clear evidence of the conflict by implying that if the machine (which in this context refers to the government) is not working properly then it should be stopped. According to Mario, any “manager” who abuses his power should be questioned. The works of Foucault emphasize on conflict and resistance as part of the power struggle. It is clear that there exist a power struggle or rather conflict between Mario and the handlers of the “machine”. Foucault, on the other hand, did not believe greatly in the power of a great speech. Mario makes one of the greatest speeches; however, Foucault is of the belief that a great speech is not a realistic and sustainable solution.


Habermas is a philosopher who solves power struggle problems through discursive politics where all the concerned parties are involved in an in-depth analysis of crisis and give probable solutions. Foucault is another philosopher who believes in conflict, resistance and micro-politics as the solutions to misuse of power; however, they both agree that freedom is an essential foundation of any democratic society. Communication is a key point of discussion and Habermas views it as an essential process to any society; in addition, Habermas believes that this process is universal. Foucault views history and society as the only things that human beings should use when developing ideologies. Foucault completely disagrees with Habermas that anything could be universal.


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