Jürgen Habermas is well known for his scholarly works on the theoretical foundations of the human sciences. The New Conservatism brings to light another side of Habermas's talents, showing him as an incisive commentator on a wide range of contemporary themes.
The 1980s have been a crucial decade in the political life of the Federal Republic of Germany. The transformations that accompanied a shift from 13 years of Social Democratic rule to government by the conservative Christian Democrats are captured in this series of insightful, often passionate political and cultural commentaries. The central theme uniting the essays is the German problem of "coming to terms with the past," a problem that has important implications outside Germany as well.
Of particular note are the essays on what has come to be known as the Historians' Debate: Habermas's attack on the revisionist German historians who have been trying to trivialize and "normalize" the history of the Nazi period, and his defense of the need for a realistic and discriminating coining to terms with the past in Germany. Habermas also takes up the recent fracas concerning Martin Heidegger's involvement with Nazism and the rise of the neoconservative movement in Europe and America. In particular, the essay on "The New Obscurity" combines Habermas's analysis of the problems of the welfare state with his suggestions for avenues open to utopian impulses today.
The New Conservatism is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.