I Am Not A Hegelian
I am not happy with my last post. I don’t really understand Buckley and his ilk, or his detractors, and I think I resorted to general abstractions to dismiss — “fascist” — rather than play with who he was and what he contributed to the neocon movement. I conflated neocons with neoliberals without explaining why. And, I didn’t speak to his irresistible attraction, now written about by tons of pundits, his affected speech, his flickering tongue, and his sibilant pronunciation of consonants. His preferred mode of transportation was motorbike in NYC, he knew he was privileged and still chose to write about the disadvantaged, and he referred to the Christian Right post-1980s as “accretions” in an interview on public radio.
For all of those reasons and one more, I am not satisfied with the conclusions of my last post. The other basis of my frustration? I am not a Hegelian. He of the awful master-slave dialectic, and that terrible “p” word pomos abhor: progress.
Hegel saw the slow, steady rise of mankind as a struggle for freedom — a process that liberated the human spirit and drew the human race forward. This struggle was unavoidable, even as the object was always unattainable-an ideal to be approached, but never achieved.
Hegel thought the old world would be destroyed, and on the ruins would be built the new. This is not dual power or reformism, this is apocalypse followed by transcendence and immanence, then mutation into a different species. It’s like punctuated equilibrium instead of evolution.*
An old world is destroyed as a new one rises, [Hegel] noted-citing the arc that bridges the seed and the fruit, and arc which we call the plant. And noting the curious Vedic legend of the dance of Lord Shiva, who created with one foot and destroyed with the other.
This is evident, argues Harpers blogger Scott Horton, in two misadaptations of Hegel — Marx and neocons. The former, I can see. (Is it not problematic that the man that brought us a labor theory of value and so on, also had a social theory of evolution determined by the mode of production? Marx was very much taken with Lewis Henry Morgan’s book on the “noble savages”, the Iroquois.) The latter, I understand less.
I intend to read Francis Fukuyama and search out a history of the neocons before I write my next post on this subject. An unhappy and hesitant subscriber to certain ideas of Marx I may be. But, no Hegelian.