In light of Real Madrid’s La Liga winning campaign, we are privileged and honored to welcome to the site German sociologist Jurgen Habermas. He is very well known for defending annoying yet long-lasting concepts, like modernity. In that vain, he graciously agreed to answer questions about our beloved Real Madrid and the Special One, Jose Mourinho. His answers will surprise, confuse, and maybe even infuriate you.
Q: Habermaster, you’ve written extensively about the concept of “communicative rationalty.” Basically, you posit that human rationality is the fruit of successful communication. You take a microscope to the norms of argumentation and focus on the phenomena communicated between entities capable of speech and action. Thus, we have to ask – was Jose just being irrational when he stopped communicating with the press? What was up with that?
A: Perhaps the greatest challenge of any philosophy is escaping the pull of relativity on the one hand and indeterminate deconstruction on the other. My theory rests on the concept of reconstructive science – namely, that reason itself is malleable, and thus in constant flux. It is not relative, but rather evolving. Thus, Jose evolved from the big mouthed and arrogant “Special One” to the quiet yet successful La Liga champion. While his capacity for speech disappeared, his actions spoke as loud as words.
Q. Habity-hab-hab, if I may be so informal, you are well known as the last voice of the Enlightenment, the only philosopher left who is willing to spar with postmodern critics. Just as the PoMos love to poopoo John Dewey, it seems that everybody smokes effeminate cigarettes, wears tight jeans, and dumps on Real Madrid because they are successful, popular, and arguably profitable. At least according to Cristiano Ronaldo. Are they just a bunch of designer v neck sweater Foucault acolytes that are also sore losers?
A: Well, my first and foremost criticism of postmodernity is that their scholars’ works of literature and art are equivocal as to the seriousness of their enterprise – we must ask, do they take their philosophy serious, or is it simply a wink & nod attempt to deconstruct with no desire to reconstruct? While Barcelona has long espoused a theory of “possession soccer”, they recently have started to play a traditional run-and-cross winger in Cristian Tello. Also, two years ago, they signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a target forward. This year, they lost and many ascribe the failure to the lack of a “direct Plan B.” Thus, is their attempt to deconstruct the run-and-kick approach a genuine endeavor, or will they try to sign Fernando Llorente in the off-season? I do not describe them as sore losers, but rather believe they are in the midst of an existential metaphysical identity crisis.
Q: Haber-master of the universe, one of your most famous historical debates revolved around revisionist German historians. To make a long story short, some academics tried to recast the Nazis as an isolated and elitist element, detached from the German public and thus, in your opinion, those historians tried to shift the moral blame from the public to an amorphous fringe. In terms of guilt-shifting and Madrid, should anybody be blamed for the loss to Bayern in the Champions League semi-finals? The defense? Mourinho? Pepe? Can Madrid even dream of winning that trophy if they can’t keep a clean sheet at home? In sum, would a Modernist moral scholar impose an imperative on Real Madrid to sign a real center back?
A: Society always seeks to narrow the scope and range of guilty individuals in past atrocities. The familiar “I was only following orders” helps the accomplices sleep at night. However, society must accept responsibility in various layers and at all layers. For example, Pepe stamped on Messi’s hand. However, Mourinho played Pepe. And Perez hired Mourinho. And Real Madrid’s socios voted to elect Perez. In that sense, every Madrid socio was guilty of stamping on Messi’s hand. They should all apologize. Immediately. And stop trying to just blame Pepe.
Q: Now Habercrombie & Fitch, you and Jacques Derrida engaged in a series of heated debates in which you questioned whether he had reduced philosophy to little more than literature and logic. You boldly asked whether Derrida’s thoughts could even provide a foundation for social critique, or if it was just a temporal philosophy of origins with the lasting power of a mayfly. In La Liga last season, Pep Guardiola called Jose Mourinho his puto amo (f’ing master). Jose Mourinho also wetwillied the assistant coach for Barcelona during a SuperCup brawl. What causes grown men, either philosophers or football managers, to act like petty children?
A: One of the most fundamental questions in our life is morality. We must always ask – is something immoral or moral? For me, the relativists such as Derrida manipulate reason to tear down societal structures, but leave us with no house, no roof, no basement, just a crater of uncertainty. Hence, for me, reason is both context-dependent and must be evaluated alongside history. Only by looking at the validity of everyday communication and presuppositions can we both analyze, criticize, and still have a framework from which to make moral conclusions. Jose and Pep had a serious breakdown in communication, and indirectly mocking one another via press conferences is probably not the healthiest way to form a bond.
Q: Habermastercard, you must either have a bulletproof vest or an iron cast of confidence. By that, I mean you take slug after slug after slug in the academic world. Foucault criticized your theory as utopian, Cohen criticized it as not including the lens of oppressed minorities, and Kompridis says its too procedural. Do you ever get tired of being attacked? Are you exhausted? Do you think Mou feels the same way with Marca and Jorge Valdano spitting bs his way once a day? If Foucault was still alive, would you feel the urge to wet-willy him out of anger? Should you?
A: It is standard for postmodernists to claim that any theory resting on the enlightenment is utopian – they’re a bunch of cynical downers, buzzkills, and rarely get invited to any of the good post-academic conference parties or happy hours. Cohen and Kompridis just don’t get my theory – minorities are definitely one of the specific contexts of reason. However, something universal can and does unite the oppression of say, females by males, and the oppression of say, blacks by white. The relativists, however, can’t even get close to this question because the very foundation of “oppression” is deconstructed. So yes, it gets tiring and I’m sure Mou is exhausted. However, if he reads Marca and actually cares then it’s his own fault. Most of their articles would not pass peer-review academic journal muster.
Q: We appreciate your time, and now we’ll cut to the chase: nobody likes Richard Rorty, he’s just this little wiener that runs around, starts debates, and then cites you when things heat up. What happens when you’re not around? Who will put him in timeout? On a related note, we’re also worried about succession at Madrid. If Mou goes, who could replace him? Is there another Special One somewhere? If not, then can we ethically clone Jose? What if we promise to really really carefully and morally handle the situation?
A: Postmodernists often attempt to paint technological change as novel and the impetus for a rejection of modernity and its notion of categorical morality. However, technology has always changed. Since Frankenstein and before, we have grappled with the notions of science, life, and values. I am flattered by Mr. Rorty’s citations to my works, even if he sometimes twists my theories in unexpected ways. I’d really advise against cloning Jose just for one simple reason: both the real life Jose and the clone would probably become restless and stop at nothing to try and kill one another. And this would distract them from coaching.
Q: Lastly, and perhaps a little off topic, if your last name was not Habermas, but rather Kopf, do you think children would have mocked you incessantly during middle school and well into high school for the name Jurgen Kopf? What if your name had been Jurgen Kopf N. Klosit?