How to tell if you’re having a legitimation crisis

I’m reading Habermas’s 1973 book, Legitimation Problems in Late Capitalism (translated as Legitimation Crisis), and wondering whether the United States is currently undergoing a legitimation crisis (as well as a “rationality crisis”) in Habermas’s sense. Thoughts?

I have my own suspicions about Habermas’s positions in that book, particularly his sense of the import of “motivation problems.” But I’m impressed by the apparent relevance of the various categories of social crisis that he delineates and relates to one another. The analysis is, of course, built on a Marxist framework (the notion of the “crises of capitalism”), but Habermas updates the thesis for later developments, including the growth of administrative authority, the phenomenon of “class compromise” (basically, class conflicts mediated and lukewarmly/incompletely resolved through governmental policy), and the contribution that a bourgeois “achievement” morality, supplemented by cultural institutions like Protestantism (as Weber famously suggested), has made to the acceptance of capitalism among the middle classes.


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