...but never had the forum! When I realized it was Jürgen Habermas' 80th birthday, I thought about what I could say about his work and its meaning for my own. I realized that I haven't yet moved beyond awe and belief, which some might call naïve. Coming out of university and realizing that Habermas actually matters beyond the ivory tower, matters in CommGAP's daily work on communication and development, hasn't helped. I take this opportunity to make two observations, just because. There has been a huge amount of literature produced first in Germany, then in the U.S. with a time lag of about 20 years, that takes up small sections of Habermas' work and tries to prove that he is wrong, because some arguments could be countered. His exclusion of marginal groups from the public sphere is one example, another is the accuracy of his historical analysis in "The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere." There are many other bones that have been picked. I see Habermas' work as a general model of society, as a theory of ideal types that of course do not always correspond to reality. That's why it's normative. I find it much more important to acknowledge that the product of Habermas' lifework is one of the most comprehensive, coherent, and consistent theories of society that we know of. All his works together tell us so much more about society than splitting theoretical hairs could ever do. Another issue: I fear that at least in the English speaking world, Habermas may be somewhat misunderstood due to problems in translation. His original texts are incredibly complex and many ideas depend very much on the context they're placed in. Context changes easily when translated into a language that has a different level of precision. One example, again from "The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere:" The German term "Öffentlichkeit" means both "public sphere" and "the public." I believe that it is extraordinarily difficult to consistently translate this term with the correct meaning, since again, so much depends on minutiae in language. On the other hand, it's incredibly important to keep both terms apart because they make a significant difference in terms of understanding Habermas' theory. Just because. Happy Birthday, Jürgen Habermas!