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The Past | The Previous

'The public sphere in the world of letters was replaced by the pseudo-public or sham-private world of culture consumption. at that time, when private people were conscious of their double role as bourgeois and homme and simultaneously asserted the essential identity of property owner with "human being," they owed this self-image to the fact that a public sphere evolved from the very heard of the private sphere itself. although in regard to its function, it was only preliminary to a public sphere in the political realm, nevertheless this public sphere in the world of letters itself already had the kind of "political" character by virtue of which it was removed from the sphere of social reproduction.
'bourgeois culture was not mere ideology. the rational-critical debate of private people in the salons, clubs, and reading societies was not directly subject to the cycle of production and consumption, that is, to the dictates of life's necessities. even in its merely literary from (of self-elucidation of the novel experiences of subjectivity) it possessed instead a "political" character in the greek sense of being emancipated from the constraints of survival requirements. it was for those reasons alone the idea that later degenerated into mere ideology (namely: humanity) could develop at all. the identification of the property owner with the natural person, with the human being as such, presupposed a separation inside the private realm between, on the one hand, affairs that private people pursued individually each in the interests of the reproduction of his own life and, on the other hand, the sort of interaction that united private people into a public. but as soon as and to the degree that the public sphere in the world of letters spread into the realm of consumption, this threshold became leveled. so-called leisure behavior, once it had become part of the cycle of production and consumption, was already apolitical, if for no other reason than its incapacity to constitute a world emancipated from the immediate constraints of survival needs. when leisure was nothing but a complement to time spent on the job, it could be no more than a different arena for the pursuit of private business affairs that were not transformed into a public communication between private people. to be sure, the individuated satisfaction of needs might be achieved in a public fashion, namely, in the company of many others; but a public sphere itself did not emerge from such a situation. when the laws of the marked governing the sphere of commodity exchange and of social labor also pervaded the sphere reserved for private people as a public, rational-critical debate had a tendency to be replaced by consumption, and the web of public communication unraveled into acts of individuated reception, however uniform in mode.'

p 160-1.


(that was a lot of typing.)