Social Critique and Engagement between Universalism, Anti-Authoritarianism and Diagnosis of Domination
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The paper discusses a particular ‘isomorphy’ between two forms of social criticism: the ‘holistic’ theoretical social critique represented by such authors as Jürgen Habermas and Axel Honneth and ‘collective social engagement’ represented by such civic movements as the ‘We Won’t Let Belgrade D(r)own’ initiative in contemporary Serbia, which the paper tries to distinguish from more conventional forms of popular protest. This ‘isomorphy’, the paper argues, consists in a tension between three distinct imperatives of the justification of critique – those of normative universalism, epistemological anti-authoritarianism, and diagnosis of social domination – produced by the attempts of both the ‘holistic’ social critics and the collectively engaged actors to simultaneously respond to all threeimperatives. After presenting the three types of theoretical critique that crystallize around each imperative, the paper discusses the internal tension that arises in the works of ‘holistic’ theoretical ...critics and then identifies the same kind of tension in the ‘We Won’t Let Belgrade D(r)own’ initiative. The tension in the movement’s critique is outlined through a brief analysis of the activists’ discourse as articulated in the bulletin We Won’t Let Belgrade D(r)own issued in March 2015. Since the examples also suggest that collective engagement is better than theoretical critique at keeping this tension ‘productive’, the paper finally offers some tentative thoughts on the possible reasons for this difference.
Keywords:isomorphy / tension / critique / justification / engagement / universalism / contextualism / diagnosis / Serbia
Source:Filozofija i društvo, 2016, 27, 2
- Institut za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju, Beograd