Hegel and the Idolatry of the State

Hegel is the ideological nexus where the Gnostic scientific dictatorships of Nazism and Communism intersect.” — Phillip and Paul Collins, The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship

“All the worth which the human being possesses – all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State. … For Truth is the Unity of the universal and subjective Will; and The Universal is to be found in the State, in its laws, its universal and rational arrangements. The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth.  We have in it, therefore, the object of History in a more definite shape than before; that in which Freedom obtains objectivity, and lives in the enjoyment of this objectivity.  …

  The objective and subjective will are then reconciled, and present one identical homogenized whole.”

— G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of History in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), pp. 388-89.

“The Nation State is spirit in its … actuality … it is therefore the absolute power on earth. … The State is the Spirit of the People itself.  The actual State is animated by this spirit … The self-consciousness of one particular Nation is the vehicle for the … development of the collective spirit; … in it, the Spirit of the Time invests its Will.  Against this Will, other national minds have no rights: that Nation dominates the World.”

From G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Law, § 331

“The State is the realization of the ethical idea. It is the ethical spirit as revealed, self-conscious, substantial will.  It is the will which thinks and knows itself, and carries out what it knows, and in so far as it knows.  The unreflected existence of the State rests on custom, and its reflected on the self-consciousness of the individual, in return, has his substantial freedom in the State, as the essence, purpose, and product of his activity.”

“The true State is the ethical whole and the realization of freedom. It is the absolute purpose of reason that freedom should be realized. … The State is the march of God through the World, its ground is the power of reason realizing itself as will.”

“We must … worship the State as the manifestation of the Divine on Earth.”

—  G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Law in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), pp. 443-444, 447.

“It must further be understood that all the worth which the human being possesses—all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State.”

“In civilized nations, true bravery consists in the readiness to give oneself wholly to the service of the State so that the individual counts but as one among many.  Not personal valor alone is significant; the important aspect lies in self-subordination to the universal cause.”

— Hegel, Philosophy of Law in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), p. 465

“A State is well-constituted and internally powerful, when the private interest of its citizens is one with the common interest of the State; when the one finds its gratification and realization in the other.”

— Hegel, Philosophy of History in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), p. 369.

“The origin of a State involves imperious lordship on the one hand, instinctive submission on the other.  Obedience – Lordly power, and the fear inspired by a ruler – in itself implies some degree of voluntary connection … it is not the isolated will of individuals that prevails; individual pretensions are relinquished, and the general will is the essential bond of political union.”

— Hegel, Philosophy of History in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), p. 398.

“A single person, it hardly needs saying, is something subordinate, and as such he must dedicate himself to the ethical whole [this whole being the Nation].”

— Hegel, Philosophy of Law, § 70L.

“The really living totality, that which preserves, and continually produces, the State and its constitution, is the Government.  In the Government, regarded as an organic totality, the Sovereign Power or Principate is … the all sustaining, all decreeing Will of the State, its highest peak and all pervasive unity.  In the perfect form of the State in which each and every element … has reached its free existence, this will is that of one actual decreeing individual; it is monarchy.  The monarchical constitution is therefore the constitution of developed reason; and all other constitutions belong to lower grades of development and the self-realization of reason.”

Hegel, Philosophy of Mind in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), pp. 252-53.

“The constitutions under which World Historical Peoples have reached their culmination, are peculiar to them; and therefore do not present a generally applicable political basis.”

“The so-called Representative Constitution is that form of government with which we connect the idea of a free constitution, and this notion has become a rooted prejudice.  On this theory People and Government are separated.  But there is a perversity in this antithesis; an ill-intentioned ruse designed to insinuate that the People are the totality of the State.”

— G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of History in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), pp. 399-401.

“The question ‘To whom … belongs the power of making a constitution?’ is the same as ‘Who has to make the Spirit of a Nation?’  Separate your idea of a constitution from that of a collective spirit … and your fancy proves how superficially you have apprehended the nexus [between the two] … It is the indwelling spirit and the history of the Nation – which is that Spirit’s history – by which constitutions have been made and are made.”

— G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Mind in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), pp. 251ff.

“The many … whom one chooses to call the people, are indeed a collection, but only as a multitude, a formless mass, whose movement and action would be elemental, irrational, savage, and terrible.”

“Public opinion deserves … to be esteemed as much as to be despised; to be despised for its concrete consciousness and expression, to be esteemed for its essential fundamental principle, which only shines, more or less dimly, through its concrete expression.”

“The definition of the freedom of the press as freedom to say and write what one pleases, is parallel to the one of freedom in general, viz., as freedom to do what one pleases.  Such a view belongs to the uneducated crudity and superficiality of naïve thinking.”

— G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Law in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), pp. 457, 461-62.

“When it is contrasted with the sovereignty of the monarch, the phrase ‘sovereignty of the people’ turns out to be merely one of those confused notions which arise from the wild idea of the ‘people’.  Without its monarch … the people are just a formless multitude.”

— G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Law, § 279.

“In public opinion all is false and true, but to discover the truth in it is the business of the great man.  The great man of his time is he who expresses the will and the meaning of that time, and then brings it to completion; he acts according to the inner spirit and essence of his time, which he realizes.  And he who does not understand how to despise public opinion, as it makes itself heard here and there, will never accomplish anything great.”

— G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Law in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), p. 461.

“The laws of morality are not accidental, but are essentially Rational.  It is the very object of the State that what is essential in the practical activity of men, and in their dispositions, should be duly recognized; that it should have a manifest existence, and maintain its position.  It is the absolute interest of Reason that this moral Whole should exist; and herein lies the justification and merit of heroes who have founded states – however rude these may have been.”

— G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of History in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), p. 388.

“Such are all great historical men, whose own particular aims involve those large issues which are the will of the World Spirit. … World historical men – the Heroes of an epoch – must be recognized as its clear-sighted ones; their deeds, their words are the best of that time.  Great men have formed purposes to satisfy themselves, not others.”

“A World-Historical individual is devoted to the One Aim, regardless of all else.  It is even possible that such men may treat other great, even sacred interests inconsiderately; conduct which is indeed obnoxious to moral reprehension.  But so mighty a form must trample down many an innocent flower or crush to pieces many an object in its path.”

— G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of History in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), pp. 376-80.

WAR

“War has the deep meaning that by it the ethical health of nations is preserved and their finite aims uprooted.  And as the winds which sweep over the ocean prevent decay that would result from its perpetual calm, so war protects the people from the corruption which an everlasting peace would bring upon it.  History shows phases which illustrate how successful wars have checked internal unrest and have strengthened the entire stability of the State.  Not only do nations issue forth invigorated from their wars, but those nations torn by internal strife, win peace at home as a result of war abroad.”

— G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Law in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1929), pp. 464-65.

See also, Hegel: The State as God’s Will

“Hegel was not a socialist like Marx. But he laid the foundation for socialist thought, state and society. The socialist state emerged and has undergone ups and downs. But during the corona crisis of the world, it seems to re-emerge as the best alternative for human survival. Hence Hegel becomes more relevant now than ever before.—-Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd,  Countercurrents

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 – 1831) was a German philosopher considered one of the most important figures in German idealism.

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