Habermas: US has made world less safe

15th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

15 June 2004, HAMBURG - The US administration of President George W. Bush has made the world a "less safe" place to live, leading German philosopher Juergen Habermas told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, in an interview to mark his 75th birthday on 18 June.

15 June 2004

HAMBURG - The US administration of President George W. Bush has made the world a "less safe" place to live, leading German philosopher Juergen Habermas told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, in an interview to mark his 75th birthday on 18 June.

Habermas said: "No other US government has been as reckless in its treatment of civic rights at home and as shameless in its dealings with international treaties, international human rights and what is at the core of the United Nations Charter - the ban on wars of aggression."

By ignoring the fundamental values of America's own political tradition, Bush had made the world "less safe", said the philosopher and political sociologist, who received worldwide acclaim for his critical theory of rationality.

However, Habermas also denounced anti-American attitudes and said he was embracing America's own growing opposition against Bush: "The world can only be brought to order if the US finds the way back to its own better tradition."

The European Union could become the first example of a continental alliance of national states, he said.

The global political sphere needed players capable of reaching and implementing efficient compromises, said the philosopher, whose works Theory of Communicative Action (1981), The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962) are classics of modern-day philosophy.

Habermas also insisted that human and civic rights were not a monopoly of the West. "All cultures today share certain moral values," he said. This was apparent from the unanimous reaction around the world to massive violations of human or civic rights - whether in Rwanda, Chechnya or in Baghdad.

However, he said: "Tolerance and the separation of state and religious power certainly demand an act of adjustment by the large religious communities."

Islam had enough vitality to tackle this challenge, Habermas said, but added: "Any intercultural dialogue is futile if it comes without the clear willingness to bring political justice to the globalised economy."

Habermas, whose understanding of democracy as a process based on communication influenced Germany's 1968 student revolt, said critical leftist ideas of the time had become mainstream in Germany today.

One example for the "success of the revolt" in Germany's political culture today was Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, a former student activist, who rejected the US war plans against Iraq by telling "warmongering" Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "I am not convinced."

Juergen Habermas was born in Duesseldorf, Germany on 18 June, 1929 and studied philosophy, psychology, German literature, and economics in Goettingen, Zurich and Bonn.

In the 1950 he joined Theodor W. Adorno's renowned Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt and later taught at the universities of Marburg, Frankfurt and at the Max-Planck Institute in Starnberg, before returning to Frankfurt as professor for philosophy.

Last week he was awarded Japan's Kyoto Prize, one of the top world prizes for the arts and sciences. The YEN 50 million (EUR 400,000) prize was awarded for his life's work.

DPA

Subject: German news

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