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Fair enough.  What I was alluding to was some of the German concept of the nation that emerged in that milieu at the beginning of the nineteenth century, e.g. the Fichte text I linked to.

Not sure if I buy your vision of Hegel as an apostle of freedom - welfare state, maybe, but a bit too state oriented - freedom = being a good, obedient citizen of a good state, and I'm far from being an expert on Hegel, but e.g.:

The state, as the actuality of the substantial will - an actuality which it has through the particular self-consciousness when elevated onto a universal level -s that which is in and of itself rational. This substantial unity is an unchanging end-in-itself in which freedom gains its supreme right, just as conversely this final end has the highest right vis a vis the individuals whose highest duty it is to be members of the state


The state in-and-for-itself is the ethical whole, the actualization of freedom. It is the absolute end of reason that freedom be actual. The state is the spirit which dwells in the world and consciously realizes itself in the world [...] WHen reasoning about freedom one must not start from the individual self-consciousness, but only from the essential nature of self-consciousness, for whether one knows it or not, this essense still realizes itself as an independent power in which the single individuals are only elements: it is the course of God through the world that constitutes the state. (Philosophy of Right: 258)

He also believed that the monarch/executive is a ideally a mystical immanent idea of the state, is chosen by birth, and should only be limited by legal formalism as determined in an unalterable constitution, derides the idea of democracy, and sees the hereditary landowning nobility as specially suited for serving as the mediator between the state and the people. Rather than democracy he wants the legislature to be made up of corporate representatives, preferably not elected by a majority vote of whatever unit they represent - the ultimate in special interests. But above all he was a loyal Prussian monarchist of his time, thinking in the categories such a person would. The way I see it seeing him as the philosopher of freedom is at least as anachronistic as seeing him as the avatar of totalitarianism, whatever superficial similarities you might find e.g. the criticism of capitalism - which didn't exist in anything approaching the modern form, or the corporatist thinking, which merely reflected the way society was organized at the time, rather than the reactionary fascist attempt to create something that is neither liberal democracy nor communism. But what do I know - early nineteenth century political philosophy really isn't my thing.

by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 09:21:45 PM EST
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