A surfeit of criticism has characterised modern societies at the latest since the emergence of book printing, but above all in the wake of the media revolution, the invention of the newspaper, television and their electronic successors. Practically nothing remains un-criticised; almost nothing is safe from criticism, not even criticism itself. Criticism is thus the agency that supplies the status quo with different versions and possibilities.
Criticism’s heyday was the period in which societies affirmed themselves in liberal public spheres via better or at least alternative versions of the status quo. At present the consensus seems to be that criticism has lost its bite, for the reason that absolutely everything can now serve as a topic of discussion and liberal public spheres scarcely find a public at all any more. This is reason enough to consider new forms and goals of criticism that are appropriate to contemporary societies, since today’s societies also depend on being confronted with different versions and possibilities. This, incidentally, is precisely the concern of Kursbuch, the cultural journal founded in 1965 by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, which now must accommodate itself to new constellations of criticism.