Communicative action is a two way process in which the actor is viewed as both the initiator and a product of the dealings he or she is involved in. As an initiator, the actor masters the situation through actions for which he or she is accountable. On the other hand, as a product of his or her dealing, he or she is a part of a group of individuals whose cohesion has its basis on solidarity. The actor is also a part of activities of socialization in which he or she is reared. With this in mind, in my opinion, Habermas would support the criticisms of Savio against the university’s policy not to allow its students to participate in political affairs. Habermas’s action to support Savio would not be because it was the right thing to do, but because of the manner in which Savio presented his criticism.

I will begin by illustrating my argument with reference to Habermas idea of ethics and moral philosophy. Firstly, Savio is charismatic enough to take charge of a crowd of close to 4000 people. When he gets arrested, he remains accountable for his actions and insists he will still do it again. He does this withstanding the lack of privacy he afforded himself, because he elicited the attention of the FBI who tailed him everywhere he went. Habermas is dedicated to reason ethics and moral philosophy. All these aspects have also been displayed in the speech. Savio has not only constitutional support over his claims against the university, but he also presents them in a way that shows moral intelligence and rationality (Habermas 389).

A reason why Habermas may support Savio is because of his theories regarding public spheres. Again he calls for dialogue and talks, which he believes are a powerful medium of identifying problems in society and possibly solving them through political action. Savio and his colleagues had identified a social problem; they were seeking for a forum through which they could “politically” come up with solutions. The university denied them their civil rights and was also denying them this forum outright. He sees the public sphere as a means in which the needs of the society are communicated to the sphere of public authority. The ultimate goal is that their needs are met.

Habermas believed that the life world is the contextual agreement of our day to day lives, the enormous stock of definitions and understandings of the world which have been taken for granted, that give consistency and bearing to our existence. It is ‘a stockroom of undisputed cultural principles from which those partaking in communication draw came to an agreement on patterns of interpretation to be used in informational efforts’ (Haberrmas 385). Habermas defines the life world as the spontaneously existing, which means, that which one is conversant with and sees as being transparent. At the same time it is enormous and a countless web of assumptions that have to be authenticated if an accurate statement is to be considered valid or invalid (Habermas 385).

Problems come up once the system enters the concrete domain of the lifeworld and intrudes in the developments of defining amongst people and societies in day-to-day life. The system world of the country’s governmental contraption (directed by power) and the economy (navigated by money) establish their own requirements over persons of the lifeworld. Habermas cultivates the idea of colonization to define the connection that exists between system and lifeworld in industrialist culture. It is evocative of Gramsci’s notion of hegemony whereby ordinary practices (beliefs, reformation and interpersonal relationships) are infused with the reason of the superseding ideology.

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The catastrophe of long overdue capitalism

This is due to the fact that, if the lifeworld exists as a perfect world, always at present there are a code of conventions on which our conversation basis is set upon about what we truly want and how we need to live as one in the social order, and if this is depends on money and power, then our actual needs and desires are not distinguishable. In its place, the desires of the system triumph and our civic discussions and arguments are conceded and one-sided. The lifeworld is colonized by the practical necessities of the nation and economy, branded by the trendy of effectiveness and the unfitting disposition of technology (Habermas 393). Accordingly individuals and crowds progressively express themselves and their ambitions in system terms and perceive themselves as customers and consumers (Habermas 1987: 356).

The navigation media of money and power have developed to being in effect that persons ‘become invisible,’ are perceived by the economy as customers and human capitals, and by the governmental–political system as constituents or clients of administrations. When systems using this method, they are seen to be normal and common sense, unresponsive and outside ones control. It is also not subject to self-governing liability. The colonized lifeworld grasps those things that are helpful of and dependable with the requirements of the economy as reasonableness. Habermas calls this the separation of system and lifeworld and in cooperation the lifeworld and the system require revolution.


Here we can tell the commencement of a fundamental comprehension of how the address of HE is colonized by the practical necessities of the nation and the economy. This is perhaps the most extensive awareness from Habermas of concern to this paper. The commercialization of HE is one instance of how the practical necessities of the organization model have come to grip a leading place in HE. The standards and performs of the economy, articulated both in the claim for variations in authority and administration, originate the economy where a diverse set of necessities (to those of HE) grasps rule. The difficulty is built up by the passing of the nation which has turned a performer for the economy and perceives itself as administrating the economy rather than controlling the public. The task for HE is both to repel the colonizing powers of the system and to pinpoint a vital part in the light of this investigation.

Further down this risk from the impression of the economy, HE is in hazard for turning into uncritical in its receipt of technology and practical level-headedness as methods of observing all glitches as agreeable to technical explanations. The same industrial supremacy is regimented in the importance set to study funding for the physical sciences. Useful facts are frequently edged entirely as methodological and contributory.

In the neo-liberal Celtic Tiger where there is only an economy and no society, where there are consumers and clients rather than citizens, the danger is that HE will see students as customers and teachers as service providers. This colonization by the neo-liberal economy is the crisis facing HE. Everything is judged by money. The price of everything is measured and students become unit costs and FTEs. Power and money are not the imperatives of the life world. Its solidarities can neither be coerced nor bought.

Colonization is all around us and is perceptible even at the architectural level and design of campus. For example tertiary educational institutions such as universities and colleges design and build learning spaces. Fresh campus structures sediment the importance of schooling in prescribed lecture halls. New structures generate brilliant spaces for undergraduates to congregate and for lecturers to address. But negligible space or even ‘unusable space’ is fashioned outside class public rooms for those discussions and deliberations that are unprompted, familiar and which underwrite to the societal glue of communications. In such spaces the utmost significant learning might occur – if these areas of study existed.

To further explain the concept of colonization I would like to add that, the economy and administration submit and invade the lifeworld. They do this by the application of money and power which lessen human connections to items. Mutual peace and understanding is maintained but subordinated and controlled. The example of the media: some honest deliberation, But mostly colonized. Reduction of lifeworld purposes into systemic purposes. For example, obtaining sustenance and upkeep in old life founded on streamlined and rationalized legal measures. These should have been put in place via contribution and deliberation. The welfare state disentangles the power of patriarchal and corporation configurations, but still underlies individuals to the media of power and money

Habermas proposed that the end is mutual understanding. Savio’s speech extremely directly addresses the misunderstanding between the students and the administration. Looking at this in relation to Habermas’s idea of argumentative form, we clearly see that the delivery of the speech had long term implications of there being an understanding between the university and the students.

Habermas suggests three situational circumstances from which argumentative speech can yield positive outcomes:

“The structure of the ideal speech situation (which means that the discourse is) immunised against repression and inequality in a special way… The structures of a ritualised competition for the better arguments……………The structures that determine the construction of individual arguments and their interrelations.” (Habermas 381)

Habermas may have agreed with Savio’s criticisms because they were taking an argumentative form that propagated his ideas. This argumentative form is a hugely valuable strategy in clearing out misunderstandings as proposed by some of Habermas’s works (Habermas 1981).

Ideas of Foucault

Foucault opposes the idea of power being concentrated on structures or individuals, but instead he has the view that power is everywhere. I illustrate this with reference to Foucault’s idea of normalization and knowledge. He assigned features to “his” power, the first feature being the ability to be flexible. By being flexible, he meant that one was susceptible to change arising from passing of time and certain situations. The second feature is negotiation. However, he further describes ideal power as one that has acceptable forms of knowledge, meaning that knowledge is not only adequate but also satisfactory to the parties involved.

According to the philosopher Foucault in his book “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison” he states that individuality has the possibility of being employed in organizations that are legitimately democratic, but apply discipline to build non-democratic rule associations:

“The general juridical form that guaranteed a system of rights that were egalitarian in principle was supported by these tiny, everyday, physical mechanisms, by all those systems of micro-power that are essentially non-egalitarian and asymmetrical that we call the disciplines.”

How Savio supports ideas of Foucault

Firstly, we see that as much as the state has the ultimate power of revoking an individual’s civil rights, this university had taken it upon them to perform this duty and were adamant to change their decision. This brings out the the idea of colonization. The university as an institution was not willing to change. This meant it was being run like a machine. To run the university as “the machine”, or as a corporation, requires particular techniques. Power produces knowledge. The technique is to reduce or eliminate the unique quality of the students by applying the concept of normalization. This made the authoritative powers it had over the students oppressive, as the student’s ideologies were changing in tune with changes in time and circumstances. The final discrepancy was that one of negotiation. The students are willing to negotiate, but the university is not.

In his advancement of communication theory, Habermas hypothesized the weaknesses that can be brought about by colonization. He noted that a contemporary society has the potential to be weakened. This occurs when sweeping domains such as the government, the economy and organizations are annexed by instrumental/strategic rationality. This makes the logic of the system to supersede and, therefore, undermine life world logic, which he holds in high regard. Savio’s criticisms support his view; ergo, he may in turn be obliged to support his criticisms. He agrees with Savio that a healthy system of government, in this case a healthy system of university management, is one that is run in consensus with the society’s opinions. This can be seen in the emphasis he put on public opinion in regard to its effect on growth and decline of politics.

Aggravation that led to Savio making ‘the Great speech’ was due to the schools reluctance to change their policies. The school was not even willing to change their policies slightly so as to cater for the needs of the students. The above theories are essential in constructing an ideal democratic theory. Savio states in his speech that the university was run by an autocracy. Seeing as America was at that time an ardent advocator of democracy and is still to this day a democratic state, all its affiliate organs should be guided by default by democratic statutes. The actions of the university were not portraying democracy, making Savio justified in making that speech, and ergo, eliciting the support of Habermas (Habermas 387)

Both theorists, though agreeing that there is no ideal contemporary society, have a different approach to what may be ideal. For instance, they both agree that discourse, or in the case of Habermas speech, is a tremendously powerful social tool, which makes Savio’s choice of weapon against the university’s oppression particularly appropriate. Nonetheless, Foucault has been radical in many of his works and even in real life actions, while Habermas is more subtle minded when it comes to handling of issues. Savio is exceptionally dramatic in his expression and has used a vast deal of rhetoric strategy to advance his views, in this case he will receive support from the Frenchmen but retribution from the German

Some contradictory elements of Foucaults’ theory

He, in actual sense, is a strong advocator of resistance as a form of social and political change. In this case, Savio has attached more meaning to the universities actions, hence the weight and depth of his words during the speech. He is portrayed as highly emotional and intensely argumentative even with the tone of his voice, which is a remarkably elaborate strategy when it comes to rhetoric situations. The way in which Savio delivers his discourse moves the masses in a way that, in my view, would get approval from the Frenchman. When delivering the facts at the beginning of the speech, which I shall term appeal to logic, he adopts a decidedly convicting tone of voice. In the last part, however, he is appealing to pathos, and his voice adopts a meaningful tone such that it is not directly stating but implying a course of action.

In Savio’s speech, he portrays the university as oppressive to the extent of making it sound like a slave master. Foucault believes that power is not merely coercive or negative. He asserts that power may be viewed as a much needed productive force. This difference in approaches to power may cause Foucault to disagree with Savio’s criticisms. Foucault does not think that power struggle, such as revolutions, can lead to change, especially in the social order. In Foucault’s two lectures he says:

‘…the power that one man exerts over another is always perilous. I am not saying that power, by nature is evil; I am saying that power, with its mechanisms is infinite (which does not mean that it is omnipotent, quite the contrary). The rules that exist to limit it can never be stringent enough; the universal principles for dispossessing it of all the occasions it seizes are never sufficiently rigorous. Against power one must always set inviolable laws and unrestricted rights.’

In light of this, Foucault and Habermas would agree to disapprove Savio’s speech because it seems to be aimed at undermining social order. This is to say that both theorists agree that in each civilization, there has to be a ruling class. The ruling class has to maintain order, and this can only be done through the implementation of rules and laws. It will, therefore, be of little or in most cases of negative consequence for the governed society to fight against the laws with each feeling of discomfort that may arise. Discourse should not always be aimed at disapproving, but at times it should be aimed at supporting (Foucault 1980).

In conclusion, Savio was a brilliant orator, a keen and gifted man in terms of politics and social ethics. He has clearly displayed and applied the principles of both theorists’ ideas, knowingly or unknowingly, in a meaningful way clearly indicating that though majorly theoretical in nature, they can be used to advance a proper argument in practice.

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