This book follows postwar Germany's leading philosopher and social thinker, Jurgen Habermas, through four decades of political and constitutional struggle over the shape of liberal democracy in Germany. Habermas's most influential theories - of the public sphere, communicative action, and modernity - were decisively shaped by major West German political events: the failure to de-Nazify the judiciary, the rise of a powerful Constitutional Court, student rebellions in the late 1960s, the changing fortunes of the Social Democratic Party, NATO's decision to station nuclear weapons, and the unexpected collapse of East Germany. In turn, Habermas's writings on state, law, and constitution played a critical role in reorienting German political thought and culture to a progressive liberal-democratic model. Matthew Specter uniquely illuminates the interrelationship between the thinker and his culture.
Matthew Specter is Assistant Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University. He has published in the journals Modern Intellectual History and the European Legacy and has presented his work at Harvard's Center for European Studies, the National Humanities Center, the German Historical Institute in Washington DC, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and the American Historical Association, as well as to audiences in Vienna, Frankfurt, Berlin, Cortona, and Haifa. Professor Specter received his PhD from Duke University and previously held the position of Postdoctoral Fellow at George Mason University.
Introduction; 1. The making of a '58er: Habermas's search for a method; 2. Habermas as synthesizer of German constitutional theory, 1958-63; 3. From the 'great refusal' to the theory of communicative action, 1961-81; 4. Civil disobedience, constitutional patriotism, and modernity: rethinking Germany's link to 'the West' (Westbindung), 1978-87; 5. Learning from the Bonn Republic: recasting democratic theory, 1984-96; Conclusion.