State and Wealth

I want to reflect on the relationship between the State on the one hand, the universal condition of my survival, and wealth, as a category of individual expression and personal safety. What is the relationship between the two in individual consciousness? How do we experience this relationship?

There is another side to this question that concerns the conditions of this experience itself. How are State and wealth related per se, in their substance as Hegel would say and how does that give rise to the way we are conscious of them? Not surprisingly in a dialectical philosophy as Hegel’s, we will find that the objective relationship between State and wealth conditions a consciousness in which this relationship is reversed and partially negated. A dialectical approach to this issue means, that we understand that this subjective experience is both illusory – because it does not reflect the true and presupposed reality – and necessary– because the underlying reality is such that this illusion is also necessarily produced.

It remains to be seen however – and this refers to the status of Hegelian dialectics in general – whether Hegel’s solution to the problem can be maintained. It is the speculative element of his method that I am sceptical about. It is through this element of dialectics that we assume, that the truth resides positively in the whole, in which both the subjective and the objective element are combined. We must ask whether Hegel’s idea about the inner unity of individual and State, wealth and power, the “real Spirit”, unfolding itself in a series of dialectical oppositions, can be maintained. The thesis is given already at the beginning. In his introduction of Section B, the Spirit in self-estrangement – the disciplin of culture Hegel states that “The substance in this way is spirit, self-conscious unityof the self and the essential nature; but both also take each other to mean and to imply alienation.” [510] The alienation is therefore secondary, the unity – stressed as a dynamic unfolding – is self-conscious unity. Relying on the basis idea that substance can become subject, i.e. what is posited as being in itself can and should become self-conscious reality – for-itself – every opposition where two antagonistic elements appear must be resolved into a higher unity.

This is not the place to resolve the fundamental issue of how to read Hegel in our modern times when we no longer share his basic intuitions. Still, it can be useful just to make a few remarks about this problem. So that is where I will begin.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “State and Wealth

  1. João V

    Hi Robbert,

    “The substance in this way is spirit, self-conscious unity of the self and the essential nature; but both also take each other to mean and to imply alienation.” [510] The alienation is therefore secondary, the unity – stressed as a dynamic unfolding – is self-conscious unity. Relying on the basis idea that substance can become subject, i.e. what is posited as being in itself can and should become self-conscious reality – for-itself – every opposition where two antagonistic elements appear must be resolved into a higher unity.”

    There might be a difference between posing this problem, politically, in an “a priori” fashion, or better said, in abstract, where pure thought brough about bu the men of State and the of social sciences, could perceive the contradictions and come up with the solution and on another hand how along history the sublation of contradictions were moved by disruptions strong enough to have the “status quo” thinking itself and moving itself into a position able to negate the negation of the disruptions and, thus, moving into a higher unity.

    Although, as Hegel says, we do not really learn from history, due to the freedom and urgence of the present, and I think that, from this, substancial change usually comes up only due to disruption, whether it comes from within the State of from outside of it, as in the cases of wars or international political movements, like we saw with the communist movement and how it took oest-european States into accepting and absorving the clames of labour, viz: social-democracy and welfare.

    The question that i would like to pose is if the subjectivity of the substance doesn’t emerge at these, or from these moments of disruption, when they are serious enough to affect the structure of the “status quo”?; and if the development of the contradictions in the “status quo” aren’t in general and in abstract what motivates those same disruptions by which the substance, meaning, here, the “status quo”, the current order, is driven to think itself fundamentally and as such be-for-itself? These questions implie still that from being-for-itself again will be posited another position which will be, first of all and again “in itself”, or that each “synthesis” becomes a new “thesis”, or each negation of a negation becomes a new position.

    Regards,
    João.

  2. João V

    PS:
    And maybe we tend to think that from higher unity we come up to less or no conflict, but and as far as i am in the Ph.G, all the moments of transition into a higher unity have shown that this higher unity ends up bringing about new conflicts, or new shapes of conflict, so that as to Hegel and the State I would ask if in his theory of State the higher unity is the sublation of conflict, alianation and contradiction or mainly a development such as to have conflict and contradiction as an inevitable condition of every State and, thus, how the main lesson of it all might be the awareness of this dynamic, meaning, that absolute knowing is in one of its expressions knowing that pure and absolute rest is illusory? And so that no determinate State will be such as to sublate all conflict and contradiction. And, finally, if the State isn’t in itself this same concept as it moves to be the universal where conflict and contradiction are one of its necessary moments or aspects having on the other extreme the drive to negate this conflict, or the moment of order, so that, absolutely the State is the universal where the necessity of conflict and contradiction relates with the necessity of negating contradiction and conflict, or the necesity of order, which, if are in fact two necessary moments of the State will constantly fall in and out of each other, meaning, “conflict against order” and “order against conflict” in an infinite movement of each positing and being posited by the other.
    João.

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