Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Counter Enlightenment: Heckling Hegel (4)

The present is a series of key postings on the roots of contemporary European political philosophy. These ideas shaped many states on the continent, determined the nature of the Government, and defined the role of the people as state subjects. The result is a distinct European culture that is shaping the world today as it is taking over the USA. 

Left and Right Hegelians at war.

Continued from The Counter Enlightenment: Countering Kant (3)

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) was, like Immanuel Kant (Part 3), a great admirer of Jean Jacques Rousseau (part 2). Like today's cosmologists are warping reason for their Holy Grail, the 'theory of everything', these anti philosophers of the Counter Enlightenment did the same in their efforts to unify faith and reason. 

Hegel feverishly sought to square Christianity with reason. In his efforts he made an irrational decision: he allowed Kant's dialectics to reflect contradiction. This is the reason why postmodernists today can be full blown racists without being seen as such, to mention just one example. A thing can be blue and green at the same time, depending on the eye of the beholder.

Hegel's follower, Karl Marx thought Hegel's dialectic on contradictions all wrong. So he devised his own version, which is with us until this day as a divisive mechanism for progress through social struggles. 


Hegel's philosophy is a secular fantasy based on Judeo-Christian cosmology: God's projection, a spirit called the Absolute, represents creation which is seeking reunification with God. Its development through struggle and conflict by means of which it gets to know itself, is the story of the history of the world. The story ends when the Absolute - reunited with God - achieves full self-consciousness.

Hegel's theme was the state. As Rousseau is the father of the totalitarian state, Hegel is the founder of the collective state. The Orwellian term, 'freedom through the state' describes well where Hegel is coming from.

According to Hegel freedom is not a God-given right, inherent in man and therefore inalienable as the Enlighteners held, but temporary and conditional, a social contract granted or to be dissolved by the state as it sees fit.

Freedom through the state

Under the principle 'as above, so below' the state is acting as the instrument of God. It is the 'ethical whole', the 'actualization of freedom', and the self-consciousness of the Absolute. As a mere aspect of the state it is the individual's duty to submit to its needs, and worship it as a 'terrestrial divinity'. Consider the following quote as illustrative of the idea:
''Otto Braun, age 19, a volunteer who died in World War I, wrote in a letter to his parents: "My inmost yearning, my purest, though most secret flame, my deepest faith and my highest hope - they are still the same as ever, and they all bear one name: the State. 
One day to build the State like a temple, rising up pure and strong, resting in its own weight, severe and sublime, but also serene like the gods and with bright halls glistening in the dancing brilliance of the sun - this, at bottom, is the end and goal of my aspirations.''
Hegel's views are a fine example how human free will, the essence of morality, is shifted from man to God, thus dodging human responsibility and lumbering God with the dire results.

Our politicians love to see themselves as Hegel's 'World historical figures,' operatives of God's Plan. They may be exacting high cost in terms of human lives, but collective historical development is of a higher order than mere morality. Under the ethics of altruism self sacrifice and the sacrifice of others to an ethical cause is justified: the end justifies the means. 

The European Union Versus the United States

The suspicion may be justified that the rift between the Enlightenment and the Counter-Enlightenment, the American-Continental fault-line, Locke versus Rousseau, is still visible today in the geopolitical differences between the United States and the European Union.

Americans have taken up ownership of their politeia, safeguarded by the guarantees of the Second Amendment, ensuring the rule of law will be defended with something more impressive than corroded pitchforks and burning barricades.

Europeans on the other hand are still stuck in the mind-set of subjects. They have not given up being the pawns of Hegel's 'world historical figures', the new operatives of 'God's work' who happen to be carving out a heroic role for themselves as unelected road-builders to Kantian world government by the new world order.

Hegel's Legacy

Expert on anti modern Counter Enlightenment thoughtStephen Hicks, lists four of Hegel's contributions to postmodernity:

1. Reality is an entirely subjective creation (or, thought creates reality) (or, reality  for its existence is dependent upon the subjective mind); (a reversal of reason made possible by Kant, who enclosed the mind inside the skull, rendering knowledge of the external world impossible);

2. Ignoring Aristotle's law, contradictions were built into reality which made them a natural part of reason (from here onwards anything goes);

3. As reality evolves contradictorily, truth is not absolute, but relative to time, place and subject (the immediate victim of this logic is morality, the knowledge of good and evil);

4. The collective, not the individual, is the operative unit.

All this unfixed relativism and subjectivism may be astounding, but compared to the Counter-Enlightenment movement's later religious as well as atheist philosophers known as the Irrationalists, Kant and Hegel are the essence of reason.


NASA psychiatrist and blogger Dr Sanity has written extensively about the Counter Enlightenment and Hegel in relation to schooling and education, early victims of the 'new logic'. Here's a self-explanatory example:

Hegel, building on Kant, Rousseau and Fichte, would go on to write, "It must be further understood that all the worth which the human being possesses -- all the spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." Hegel's heirs went on to divide into left- and right-wing camps. The charge of the left was led by leftists like Karl Marx, who transformed Hegel's "dialectic of Spirit" into an economic and social system that depended on godless dialectic of "oppressors versus oppressed." The right-wing Hegelians tended to stress the omnipotence of the state and were less willing to abandon a deity. For more than a 100 years, the two camps have been battling it out, each trying to impose their utopian vision onto the human species.

Both Hegelian offshoots summarily dispensed with free will and human freedom; and between them, they brought forth the philosophical abomination that we now call "postmodernism". The 20th century was the battleground where the two totalitarian branches of the collectivist philosophers vied for spiritual and physical control over humanity. The amount of death, destruction and misery they ushered in is perhaps unprecedented in human history.

By the mid-20th century, the right-wing, or nationalist, Hegelians, or National Socialists (Nazis) had been defeated by an alliance of the left-wing Hegelians and those who stood for human freedom and democracy. By the end of the century, the social systems favored by the Hegelians of the left had been exposed to the world for the lie and deception it was.

But, in this new century, both utopian systems have been given new life by recruiting a potent new ally in their attempts to control the minds of men. That ally is postmodern philosophy and rhetoric. This 18th century philosophical rise of collectivism is still playing itself out several hundred years later in the competing ideologies of our own time.

The most important battlefield in this war in our time is the educational system, from kindergarden through college, where strenuous efforts are being made by the remnants of both types of collectivists to claim the minds of the next generation. (...). 

Free Download of Stephen Hicks primer on Postmodernism (PDF)

Coming up next: "Flunking Fichte": "Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished."

First posted: March 3, 2008

In this series
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Rousseau's Ravages
Part 3: Countering Kant
Part 4: Heckling Hegel
Part 5: Fluncking Fichte

Dutch: De Contra-Verlichting
Deel 1: Inleiding
Deel 3: Contra Kant
Deel 4: Hegel Gehekeld