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t is because the American state is not rational. It is not rational because the Constitution is designed in such a way that states with small populations are disproportionately represented in the Senate and Electoral College. Since sparsely populated states are more rural, and rural areas are more conservative, that means that a conservative minority is able to block legislation desired by a progressive majority.

Why would Hegel mind that? He explicitly argues that representatives should be of specific groups - towns, professions, etc., size having nothing to do with it. He finds the idea of majority rule risible because in his view you can't get a rational result from it.

You can't get out of that by dismissing those ideas you dislike as a product of his time - all his ideas are of his era, and trying to graft an affection for democracy onto Hegel seems a bit strange - the whole state structure which he sees as the embodiment of political freedom simply collapses if you do so.

Liberalism is unable to articulate the notion of freedom I discussed in my original post by the way, no better than Islam can, because it rejects the concept of reason

No. That's just wrong. There's a very strong utilitarian aspect to liberalism. Unless you mean the idea that there are certain basic freedoms that should be treated as fundamental - e.g. freedom of conscience. But even those are often justified on rational grounds. The difference between a Hegelian vision and the liberal one lies in the attitude to the state - Hegel embodies it with a quasi divine status, liberalism doesn't and is focused on the individual. That can reach the exact same ends you like - a welfare state - without tossing away the rights of individuals.

Ironically, given where this discussion started, Hegel's support for liberal style freedom was at its strongest with respect to religion - his view on that was precisely the American one you reject, which is why he argued for rights for even those religions hostile to the state (Quakers) or largely outside the society of which the state is an emmanation (Jews). He's at his most illiberal when it comes to how to organize and run the state, not with respect to liberal freedoms. You on the other hand seem to be rejecting that, calling for secularism to be the religion of the state and imposed by the state on individuals.

by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 01:54:38 AM EST
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Wow. It's hard to do justice to your points at this late hour.

With respect to your first objection, that Hegel said that size should have nothing to do with political influence, I would say that Hegel was assuming that the "players" in the political process had a sense of civic virtue. In America today, it is clear that the players do not have this sense: a sense of or concern for the common good. Given that, one has to tactically fall back upon the idea of simple majority rule (expecting that the law will protect the rights of the minority, of course), given that on major issues, the American majority is progressive (even though you would never learn that from the corporate media).

Your next objection makes the point that "There's a very strong utilitarian aspect to liberalism." I don't see the import to that: from a Hegelian point of view, liberalism and utilitarianism go hand-in-glove. They both fail to see that there is something that transcends naked individual self-interest. You say that Hegel gives the state a quasi-divine status. That is correct as far as it goes: that is the status that the state deserves. Only the state can allow all citizens to live fulfilling lives, under capitalism. What higher value is there than that? Divine indeed.

Like you, the Bushies are focused on the individual. They don't like the state any more than you do. Furthermore, they understand that not all individuals are alike. Some are winners, some are losers. The state doesn't make that distinction. Face it: liberalism can't conceptualize an organic connection between the human beings making up a society. So it is very easy to slip from a benevolent liberalism—individuals with bad luck must be helped—to a malevolent liberalism—the best way to help individuals is to give them "incentives" to help themselves (even though, given their conditions, they can't).

I'm pleased to learn that Hegel advocated religious tolerance toward Quakers and Jews. But I am not surprised to learn that, since, unlike you, I understand that Hegel gives the individual his due. I don't call upon the state to impose secularism on individuals. My view is that secularism and Christianity are two sides of the same coin. And I got that idea from Hegel, so I would say that was his view as well, although he wouldn't have put it that way, since the concept of secularism didn't exist in his time. (He was instrumental in bringing it about.)

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 03:42:51 AM EST
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