Hegelian Philosophy

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Why is Hegel is such a big deal for commies and philosophers ?

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My short breakdown of it, specifically the “Hegelian Dialectic” aspect of politics, is that if you give the populace the illusion of choice – between two candidates – then the ruling ‘powers that be’ can implement their will on the people with very few complaints (even if those candidates only represent, in actuality, two sides of the same proverbial coin)…

Hegel’s influence on Marx is undeniable but also ironic, since Hegel had followers on both the right and the left ends of the political spectrum. The left-wing Hegelians eventually became more prominent, primarily through socialist and communist revolutions and revolutionary philosophies.

Hegel believed that history was a movement towards greater and greater rationalism, and that sometimes that movement required revolutionary leaps. Marx agreed, but had very different ideas about the end point of history. Where Hegel controversially suggested that the Prussian state was the most rational government that ever existed, and also accepted Christianity, Marx pointed towards a future state in which capitalism withered away just as feudalism had withered away, and religion withered away as well.

Despite what many people consider the failure of communist states, many people still agree with Marx’s critique of capitalism and religion, and believe that *something* must replace them eventually, because they are fundamentally irrational. I don’t think anyone still agrees with Hegel’s praise of the Prussian state, but Hegel’s influence survives through Marxism. Many people still believe Hegel’s theory that history is a movement towards greater and greater rationalism, but continue to disagree on what that looks like in the future.

By the way, I do *not* recommend reading Hegel. Instead, I recommend reading summaries or explanations of Hegel.

Hegel was deliberately obtuse and hard to understand, which is one reason people at opposite ends of the political spectrum could all cite him as an influence. And when I realized his conclusion was that the Prussian state was the peak of history, I felt like tossing the book across the room.

Still, if you are a student of philosophy you will probably be asked to make your way through one of his works. I’ve heard it’s actually easier in translation because the original German is even harder to penetrate.

Hegel is also important if you are studying German history, because 19th century Germans were fascinated with philosophy. Sadly, this devolved into the racist and populist 20th century Nazi “philosophies” that were a perversion of Hegel and other German philosophers.

That’s another reason the right-wing Hegelians have pretty much disappeared. Hitler forever besmirched the idea of Prussian or German intellectual superiority and rationalism.