Technology and Science as Ideology
In this book, Habermas starts by describing Hegel's early philosophy. Hegel believed that our behavior, language, and moral conduct reflect our self-awareness. He thought that we can truly understand the mind only through our relationships with others. These ideas are not just based on logic but come from real-life experiences.
According to Hegel, our identity is created and not inherent. It's formed through our experiences, work, and the struggle for recognition. He believed that our sense of self and identity comes from being recognized by others.
In Hegel's view, love is the result of resolving conflicts between people and depends on mutual recognition and respect. He saw the cycle of suppression and restoration of relationships as "the dialectic of moral relations". He believed that putting oneself above others can lead to a chain reaction of conflict and negative consequences. For example, when a criminal is punished for their actions and experiences guilt, it's meant to help them understand the impact of their actions and the importance of treating others with respect. The first stage of organized moral behavior is interacting through established legal norms. Individuals then form a sense of self-identity and recognize each other.
Hegel also wrote about the concept of the spirit, which is a combination of consciousness, language, tools, memory, work, and the family. He saw symbols as playing a big role in helping us remember and identify objects. Language, naming, and memory are linked and are crucial to our existence as conscious beings.
Technik und Wissenschaft als Ideologie
The spread of technology and science has led to the increasing rationalization of society, meaning that more areas of society are subjected to rational decision-making, which has led to the decline of traditional justifications and a growing dominance of rationality in social actions. However, some argue that this type of rationality is a form of implicit political domination that serves specific interests and goals. They believe that technology itself is a form of domination and an ideology that needs to be revolutionized to achieve social change. This change requires a new science and technology that includes a new definition of technology and a focus on freeing the potential of nature through nurturing and preservation.
There have been changes in capitalist societies, with the growth of state intervention and the increasing scientificization of technology, which has led to a close alignment between the interests of society and the interests of the system as a whole. The result is a perspective in which the development of society is determined by the logics of scientific and technological progress, and the direction and speed of technical progress are not subject to discussion.
Max Weber introduced the concept of rationality to describe the capitalist economic activity, private law, and bureaucratic rule. The industrialization of society and the spread of technology and science have led to the increasing rationalization of society, meaning that more areas of society are subjected to rational decision-making. This leads to the decline of traditional justifications and a growing dominance of rationality in social actions.
Herbert Marcuse has built upon Max Weber's analysis. Marcuse believes that what Weber referred to as rationalization represents a form of implicit political domination, rather than rationality itself. This type of rationality focuses only on the correct choice of strategies, the appropriate use of technology, and the efficient organization of systems. It excludes the larger societal context in which these decisions are made. It also only applies to technical feasibility and requires a type of action that implies control, making rationalization of social conditions synonymous with the institutionalization of domination that becomes politically unrecognizable.
Marcuse argues that the concept of technical reason may be an ideology and that technology itself is a form of domination that serves specific interests and goals. He notes that in advanced capitalist societies, domination tends to become rational, by maintaining a system that can justify itself through the increase in productivity tied to scientific and technical progress.
According to Marcuse, a change in society cannot be achieved without revolutionizing knowledge and technology. He suggests that the current scientific method and concepts promote a world in which nature is controlled through the domination of human life. Marcuse argues for a new science with a different method and approach, in which the focus would be on freeing the potential of nature through nurturing and preservation. Such a new science would need to include a new definition of technology. The challenge of creating a new science and technology would require an alternative design.
Max Weber used the concept of rationalization to describe the impact of scientific and technological progress on the institutional framework of modernizing societies. This is a common interest among sociologists who have tried to conceptually capture institutional change driven by the expansion of rational action subsystems.
Talcott Parsons has attempted to systematically represent the decisions between alternative value orientations made by subjects in their actions, regardless of cultural or historical context. However, his list of four pairs of alternative value orientations: affectivity versus affective neutrality, particularism versus universalism, ascription versus achievement, and diffuseness versus specificity, is actually designed to analyze the historical change from traditional to modern society and reflects dominant attitudes during the transition.
Habermas suggests a different categorization based on the fundamental distinction between work (or rational action) and interaction. Work refers to instrumental or rational behavior guided by technical rules or strategic thinking. Work relies on empirical knowledge and produces conditional predictions about events, while interaction is based on analytical knowledge and derives value systems and general principles.
Traditional society refers to a civilization, characterized by centralized power (state organization rather than tribal), division into socio-economic classes, and the presence of a central world view (mythos or religion) to legitimize rule. Traditional societies exist as long as the development of sub-systems of rational action stays within the bounds of cultural tradition, which is based on mythic, religious, or metaphysical interpretations of reality. This superiority of the institutional framework does not exclude restructuring due to an excess of productive forces.
Marxist thought evolved in response to changes in capitalist societies. By the mid-19th century, capitalism had established itself in England and France, allowing Marx to recognize the societal framework in production relationships and critique the basis of the equivalent exchange. He criticized bourgeois ideology in his Political Economy and challenged the illusion of freedom in the labor contract. Marcuse later critiqued Max Weber for retaining an abstract concept of rationalization that did not acknowledge the class-specific content of the institutional framework's adaptation to the rational action subsystems. Since the late 19th century, there have been two trends in advanced capitalist countries: the growth of interventionist state activity and the growing interdependence of research and technology. These trends have destroyed the configuration of the institutional framework and rational action subsystems that characterized liberal capitalism, making Marx's Political Economy no longer applicable.
Marcuse argues that technology and science now play a role in legitimizing authority; the regulation of the economic process by state intervention has arisen from the need to stabilize a capitalism that was failing due to its own dysfunctions. The ideology of fair exchange that Marx had discredited has practically collapsed, and the form of private capital utilization can only be maintained through state corrections. The societal framework has become repoliticized, with the institutional framework no longer directly aligned with production relationships and private law. This change has altered the relationship between the economic system and the power system.
Since the end of the 19th century, there has been a trend of increasing scientificization of technology, a hallmark of late capitalism. The pressure to increase labor productivity through new technologies has always existed in capitalism, but innovations used to be based on sporadic inventions that had a more organic character. With the growth of industrial research, science, technology and exploitation have become intertwined, with state-funded research also contributing to the scientific and technical progress. This results in technology and science becoming the primary productive force, which renders Marx's theory of labor value meaningless.
The productive force potential has taken on a form that reduces the duality of work and interaction in people's consciousness, and the interests of society still determine the direction and speed of technical progress, but they are now so closely aligned with the interests of the system as a whole that they are not subject to discussion. The result is a perspective in which the development of society is determined by the logics of scientific and technological progress. The immanent legality of this progress appears to produce functional necessities for politics, but if this appearance becomes established, then propaganda highlighting the role of science and technology can be used to justify the status quo.
The capitalist society has changed due to two development tendencies, making it difficult to apply the key categories of Marxist theory, such as class struggle and ideology. The state-regulated capitalism, which emerged as a response to the dangers posed by open class antagonism, stills class conflict. The late capitalism system is defined by a policy of compensating and avoiding conflicts, ensuring the loyalty of wage-earners. This means that the conflict built into the structure of society through private economic exploitation remains latent and is overtaken by other conflicts caused by the mode of production but cannot take the form of class struggle. Conflicts are likely to ignite at the periphery of the state's action area where needs are removed from the central conflict and therefore don't receive priority in danger prevention. These conflicts arise as a result of disproportionate state interventions in underdeveloped areas and corresponding disparities. These disparities cannot be interpreted as class antagonisms but as results of the still dominant process of private capital exploitation and a specific capitalist system of domination. The interests responsible for maintaining the mode of production are no longer easily locatable class interests but interests that can react to threats to stability due to the established mechanism of capitalist economy.
If the scope of the application of the concept of ideology and class theory is to be confirmed, then the categorical framework in which Marx developed the basic assumptions of historical materialism must also be re-formulated. The connection between productive forces and production relationships would have to be replaced by the more abstract one between work and interaction. The production relationships refer to a level where the institutional framework was only anchored during the phase of the development of liberal capitalism and not before or after. On the other hand, the productive forces, which accumulate the learning processes organized in the purpose-rational actions in the sub-systems, have been the driving force behind social development from the beginning, but they do not seem to have the potential for liberation and to trigger emancipatory movements, as Marx had assumed. The relationship between the institutional framework (interaction) and the sub-systems of purpose-rational actions (work in a broader sense of instrumental and strategic actions) may better reconstruct the sociocultural thresholds of human history.
The technocratic consciousness clouds the fact that the institutional framework, based on systems of rational action, could only dissolve the essential dimension accessible to humanization - communication through colloquial interaction. There will be an expansion of control techniques in the future, including new methods for surveillance, control of behavior, and even genetic control, which could lead to the drying up of consciousness developed through colloquial communication. The point is not that this cybernetic dream of a self-stabilizing society is achievable, but that it is the negative utopian end of the technocratic consciousness. Two concepts of rationalization can be seperated, one at the level of sub-systems of rational action, which has already forced the re-organization of societal institutions and will require further change, and one at a higher level.
There is a possibility of a new conflict zone arising in the system of public administration managed by mass media. This conflict zone can only emerge if the late capitalist society immunizes itself against questioning its technocratic background ideology through depoliticizing the masses. This is where the necessary concealment of the difference between advances in systems of purposeful action and emancipatory changes in the institutional framework can be maintained. The public-allowed definitions do not address how we want to live based on attainable potentials. It is difficult to predict who will bring this conflict zone to life. Neither the old class opposition nor the new type of underprivilege has protest potentials that tend towards a repoliticization of the dried-out public. The only protest potential that is directed towards the new conflict zone arises initially among certain groups of students and pupils. The student and pupil protest group is privileged and represents interests directly arising from their position, which can be alleviated by an increase in systemic injustices. American studies show that the majority of student activists come from the socially and economically privileged sections of the student population. The legitimacy offerings of the dominant system do not convince this group for plausible reasons. The social welfare replacement program for fallen bourgeois ideologies requires a certain status and performance orientation. According to the mentioned studies, student activists are less oriented towards a professional career and future family than other students. Their academic performance, which is often above average, and their social background do not create an expectation horizon determined by the anticipated constraints of the job market. Compared to the technocratic awareness, active students, who often come from social sciences and philological-historical fields, are relatively immune because their primary experiences of their own scientific work do not coincide with the technocratic assumptions, even if for different reasons.