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University of California

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Savio’s speech about ‘the Machine” was broadcasted from Spoul Hall, University of California, and intended to focus on the status of universities and their capability  to produce people who are well-rounded in the society. Savio’s speech argued that Universities are handed with the responsibility of enhancing people’s capabilities for the benefits of the society. Although universities are well-equipped, most persons in universities do not get this training but wander aimlessly, hence do not achieve much until the end of their learning period. They wonder about their bleak future in a society where the rules have been made up, and those rules cannot be amended.

The paper will explore whether Habermas and Foucault’s concepts refer to Savio’s speech about “the Machine”. It will also expound on what aspects of Savio's criticism of the university they would both embrace or reject. While doing that, this paper will also integrate vital discussions on Habermas’ and others from Foucault’s works. Jurgen Habermas was a prominent philosopher with a worldwide reputation, and his ideas were very significant to scholars teaching planning in universities. His most important ideas were compiled in the Communicative theory. The theory seeks to make actors seek an understanding through a consensus or through works of cooperation rather than through strategic goals in pursuit of their own strategic goals (Habermas 86). On the other hand, Michael Foucault is a French postmodernist, whose works have hugely shaped the understandings of power. He is against actors using power as an instrument to coerce. In addition, he is opposed to the structures in which those actors operate, and is of the view that power is everywhere implanted in knowledge, regimes of truth, and in discourses (Foucault 219).

Habermas and Foucault response towards Savio’s speech would be to advocate for public participation to make the institution better. Besides that, both would criticize the way the institutions are governed with the intention of self-gratification instead of considering the interests of all party. The speech shows that there is a poor planning in universities and thus there would be a need to analyze their planning. According to Habermas, public participation and information sharing through dialogue to reach a compromise and avoiding bureaucrats would be necessary to turn around the institutions’ poor performances. It would also be necessary to advocate for a legitimate democracy that enacts laws and oversees that the whole process achieves credible results. According to Habermas, the authority should be based on nothing else but just superior argument (Habermas 248). Habermas’ communicative action also calls for understanding between or among groups to bring cooperation as opposed to strategic action that is designed to promote one’s personal goals (Habermas 301). This would be vital in delivering results to everyone including the students.

Habermas states in his Communicative theorythatthe different actorsin the universities do need to establish a relationship that seeks to arrive at comprehensive understanding concerning the situation and their plans of the course of action to be taken in order to coordinate their actions by consensus. Firstly, these institutions need to negotiate and reach a consensus. Habermas would agree that Savio’s speech calls for communication that is designed to offer a solution now and even in the future when such problems occur. Habermas’ proposal of everyday communicative action would be important in presenting social order in the universities as a cooperative network involving assurance and responsibility (Habermas 268).

However, it is likely that Habermas’ theory of communicative action would reject the fact that the university leadership would be solely to blame for everything given that individuals could lead to the achievement of privately set goals. The actions of the other parties are important or rather instrumental in intervening in the process. In addition, it is not probable that they would agree that there was no mutual understanding despite the failures being brought in the speech. Communicative rationality brings about action which is intended at achieving mutual understanding perceived as a process of coming to an agreement between the parties to harmonize their views on the world (Habermas 400).

However, it is ideal to note that mutual understanding is not only achieved through communicative action as some have misunderstood Habermas’ concept. It is not only through communicative action that subjects can aim at mutual understanding but also through other various ways. However, Habermas points out that communication actions are crucial. Both Habermas and Foucault, however, disagree with the speech when it points out to forceful measures being applied to change the situation. Habermas maintains that only through language, when applied under the conditions of rational argumentation the social actors can harmonize their words and actions regarding the orientation for mutual understanding (Habermas 386). Habermas would prefer to apply the communication actions rather than forceful tactics. Habermas argues that the claims of communicative actions in a daily social life is the best option because they are raised in the frames of the undisputed and shared lifeworld, which does not cause havoc or dispute. Habermas continues to say that the lifeworld presents the commonly acknowledged background knowledge in terms of which the actions can be accorded (Habermas 388).

Habermas would reject the notion that the individual has no role to play as in this case and has to pour all the blame on the powerful structures. They also have a huge role to play and have to abide by the rules of the social system. In Savior’s speech, the students have been labeled as the victims yet they also have a part to play to make the institutions better. According to Habermas, an occidental society is characterized by the traits of the legitimacy assertions of speech acts. Thus, there are three influential attitudes that focus on the external world of circumstances and events; a normative attitude in regards to the society made up of people with a communicative attitude to the inner humankind of the partisanship of the person. Habermas does not leave his interpretation of the concept of the life restricted to the artistic tradition (the commonly accepted explanation of the world) in a fastidious community. This is because he realizes that there are several parties which are involved.

The university, on the other hand, as indicated in the speech, has failed to provide a set of cultural values. Habermas also suggests that, apart from availing cultural values, the concept of lifeworld also guarantees that the social actors stand for the normative principles of the society (to reach the harmony of social alignment) and ensures that people are flexible to act in a competent personality that is in alliance with their societal environment (the formation of the identity)  (Habermas389). Habermas’ theory of social evolution comes to an imperative turn when he affirms that the action-oriented advance of the lifeworld cannot be a sufficient explanation for all the intricacy of modern societies. The process of validation should be implicit not only as a segregation of the lifeworld as an emblematically replicated talkative order, but also in the form of the ‘material substratum’ of the social order (Habermas 282).

Habermas would also respond by indicating that societies have to safeguard the communication of cultural values, rightful norms, and socialization processes. In addition, they also have to professionally influence and control their environment in terms of flourishing involvement. This is indeed what is lacking in the university according to the speech. Habermas, therefore, complements the perception of the lifeworld within a systems theory, particularly paying attention to the monetary and the opinionated system (Habermas 433).

According to Foucault, power shapes us and our personalities are what we are because of that power. To him, power is not concentrated but is everywhere; it should not be coercive, personified, and enacted. His opinions differ from other theorists’ opinions. Foucault is of the view that grouping people as a way of dominating them or coercion should not wield power. According to Foucault, power is everywhere and is not concentrated on certain structures or agencies (Foucault 163); instead, he believes that power is a ‘gospel of truth’ that is encompassed by the society and characterized with instances of stability and negotiation.   

Foucault would react to the speech agreeing that a truth has been finally achieved because of multiple constraints. The speech is indicative that there have been multiple constraints piling up in institutions of learning, and suddenly the truth has come out at last. According to Foucault’s concept, this means that the truth finally points out to regular impacts of power. Each society has what it believes to be truth; and there are also those systems or mechanisms that distinguish what is true and what is false. Besides that, each society has those procedures and methods that are accorded value in the quest of truth.  (Foucault, 103)

Institutions in the society such as the media, education system and others mainly reinforce the concept of truth.  In fact, the battles for truth are mainly on differentiating true, false, and how they are separated and how the specific power is attached to it. Foucault recognizes that power is not something that compels us to do things opposed to our wishes but it is a productive and positive influence in the society. This means that Foucault would reject the speech when it points out that the institutions are exerting negative power upon the students. Foucault views power as something good that produces truth, so he would reject the views that power in these institutions is bringing negativity. To him, it is also a power that produces discipline and compliance in society.

 Foucault is also in disagreement with the speech when it claims that there is a need to enhance disciplinary powers on such institutions. Foucault thinks otherwise suggesting that such institutions including mental schools, schools, and prisons have the capacity to maintain discipline by their own. According to him, there is power produced discipline and conformity. In such institutions, people find themselves behaving in the expected manner. So, he disagrees with Savio’s speech on managing all issues including student’s discipline in this institution. Foucault sees no need for mechanism such as school discipline, prison surveillance, or any other form of control of the population (Foucault 111).

According to Foucault, the government embraces organized practices or techniques that strive to bring sanity in the society. It is through this that subjects are governed. The government is said to dictate how we behave through the techniques and plans that it lays down (Foucault 131). Therefore, according to Foucault concept of techniques, the machine that refers to here, which is the university, can be governed through proper laid techniques that can be effective in solving the problems affecting it besides improving it. Besides that, Foucault talks about long-term assumptions on various matters and the outcome that this has on power. His concepts are found in Savio’s speech in which he expounds on the effects of universities due to long-term assumptions on universities. 

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