How a Facebook Comment turned into a Discussion Session on Nietzsche
In Habermas’ book, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, he argued that salons (European conception of the American coffee shops) were places in which private individuals could gather and engage in critical-rational discourse on matters of public concern. The public sphere, Habermas argued, served as a counterweight to governmental rulings since dissent was birthed in coffee houses.
Habermas was also a vociferous critic of Mill whose philosophy of liberalism was what he regarded as a force (together with industrialization) that has destroyed the bourgeoisie public sphere. Case-in-point: Most of the media outlets are dominated by a few corporations who, by virtue of their extensive broadcasting abilities, have tremendous political power. Time Warner, for instance owns CNN, the CW (a joint venture with CBS), HBO, Cinemax, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT, America Online, MapQuest, Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema, as well as more than 150 magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Marie Claire and People.
Ergo, Habermas lamented how commercialization and economic liberalism have undermined the public sphere which, he argued, is a necessary agent for a functioning democracy.
Still, Habermas’ argument might well be rendered anachronistic with the rise of the Internet which has great potential to become a public sphere in which rational-critical debates can circulate.
(Note: The discussion about Nietzsche becomes more relevant towards the end of the comments but I chose to keep the beginning because I feel that it’s an interesting progression. Please pardon the poor alignment and the truncated comments; I removed some segments that were irrelevant to the varying interpretations of what we felt Nietzsche was saying. Also, partly because I didn’t want the post to be too long.
– Please feel free to continue commenting on the Facebook post/share your insights on Nietzsche, or engage directly with the WordPress entry which is my attempt to succinctly summarize the importance of the public sphere in a functioning democracy and how the Internet represents a mediated platform through which multiple public spheres can exist.