“The Liberal Idea Has Become Obsolete”

Martin Jay at The Point:

I was first alerted to Raymond Geuss’s sour anti-commemoration of Jürgen Habermas’s ninetieth birthday, “A Republic of Discussion,” coincidentally on the same day that Vladimir Putin declared the obsolescence of liberalism in a meeting with Donald Trump. Trump, with the exquisite cluelessness that has made him so easy to mock, took the remark to refer to American political liberals, such as those in the Democratic Party. But Putin’s target was something much larger: the tradition of liberal democratic norms and institutions he and his fellow authoritarian populists are determined to undermine. It is the tradition that Geuss finds so lamely defended by Habermas’s theory of communicative action, which believes in discursive deliberation as a fundamental principle of a liberal democratic polity.

Since guilt by association may not be a fair tactic—although in this case, it is hard to resist—let’s look at Geuss’s argument on its own terms. The first point to make is that it is, in fact, an argument, made publicly, drawing on reasons and evidence, employing Geuss’s characteristic rhetorical flair and keen intellect, and not a mindless rant.

more here.