Ideal Speech

Topics: Referendum, Democracy, Direct democracy Pages: 3 (809 words) Published: February 24, 2014
'Does "Ideal Speech" ever really take place?'

In today’s time and society it is difficult to contradict the concept that power and money seem to cover and have effect in all decisions concerning society. The gap between social ideals and social reality hasn’t stopped increasing in the last decades and power has played a big role in this gap. It has become very rare and difficult to establish if an ideal speech ever takes place, and if any public debate is free of any institutional coercion. But there are still moments were the concept described by Habermas as ‘open democracy’ can be identified, were all difficulties are overcome, and an open discourse does take place. An idea is placed successfully on the public sphere and everyone is allowed to introduce assertions, question these ideas and express their own concerns and needs free, or at least overcoming, any sort of pressures that would influence in peoples will.

In 2001 the bankruptcy of Swiss Airline almost took Thommas Minder, supplier of toiletry products for the Swiss airline, to the exact same situation. His surprise was even greater when he read that the head of Swiss Air, Mario Conti, was rewarded with nine million euros in compensation. Instead of compensating investors and shareholders the money was going to individuals who had done nothing to earn these millionaire compensations. He then decided to start his personal campaign. Thommas Minder needed to create the situation for an ideal speech to take place. As an individual he needed to make sure that he was allowed to speak publicly and that anyone who desired would be able to question any of his assumptions. By allowing everyone to participate, even those who were against his idea,s all arguments would be tested in practice by what Habermas defined as ‘performative contradiction'. His argument could be criticized, but if society would not respond to these objections, the assumptions against Thomas Minders’ speech would fail.


References: • Swiss referendum backs executive pay curbs, 2013. Available from: [3 March 2013]
• Andres Keiser, Fuelled by public ire, alone against the world, 2013. Available from:,_alone_against_the_world.html?cid=35135014. [4 March 2013]
• The Ideal Speech situation. Available from: [1 May 2013]
• Harper, T 2011, ‘Ideal speech: The importance of being Ernest’, In Democracy in the Age of New Media, Peter Lang, New York
• Edgar, A 2006, ’Habermas: The Key Concepts’, New York pp. 104-105
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