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:: Acceptance Speech in Vienna (10-03-2006 18:34)
On March 9, 2006, Jürgen Habermas held an acceptance speech in Vienna for the Bruno Kreisky Prize: ”Ein avantgardistischer Spürsinn für Relevanzen. Was den Intellektuellen auszeichnet.”

Read the speech here:

Habermas had comments on the declining prominence of intellectuals through television and the Internet: "On the one hand, the communication shift from books and the printed press to the television and the Internet has brought about an unimagined broadening of the media sphere, and an unprecedented consolidation of communication networks. Intellectuals used to swim around in the public sphere like fish in water, but this environment has become ever more inclusive, while the exchange of ideas has become more intensive than ever. But on the other hand the intellectuals seem to be suffocating from the excess of this vitalising element, as if they were overdosing. The blessing seems to have become a curse. I see the reasons for that in the de-formalisation of the public sphere, and in the de-differentiation of the respective roles."

Habermas also talked about the future of Europe. He called on Europeans "to pull up their socks and carry out a reform which would give Europeans an effective decision-making apparatus, their own foreign minister, a directly-elected president and an independent financial basis. These demands could form the basis of a referendum held concurrently with the next European parliamentary elections. The draft would be considered passed if it received the 'double majority' of votes of the states and the electorate. At the same time, the referendum would only bind the member states in which a majority had voted in favour. Europe would then move away from the convoy model where the tempo is set by the slowest member."

Habermas concluded his speech by stating that he agrees with the views, the Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has presented in his new book ”Les Etats-Unis d’Europe” (The United States of Europe).

(translations from the German web site ”Signandsight”)

Thomas Gregersen