Deliberation in Dysfunctional Democracies

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This article traces the dysfunctional democracies of the Trump and Brexit Era back to the suspension of public discourse and the manipulation of citizens through commercial media and political propaganda techniques during World War I. The influence of these manufactured stereotypes on the formation of public opinion was first analyzed by Walter Lippmann, whose critique of the stereotypical “image of democracy” triggered John Dewey’s famous rejoinder. Integrating this debate into Jürgen Habermas’s original paradigm about the modern public sphere, which he developed in juxtaposition to Hannah Arendt’s valorization of the Greek polis, will allow the renewal of the necessary historical perspective on the challenges for democratic deliberation in times of socio-economic, political, and military crises. In short, these reflections continue where Craig Calhoun’s Tanner Lecture “The Problematic Public: Revisiting Dewey, Arendt, and Habermas” left off.