Thursday, July 02, 2015

Hegel's Constitution

In spite of the confusion in The Philosophy of History (1830-1831), there are a few things of interest.  One is the note on the gradual devolution of languages from their more pure and sophisticated grammatical form.  Another point that Hegel shares with me is that there are "rights" and there are "wrongs".  Today, both are placed under the heading of "Human Rights".  He considers the family - i.e. the human family according to the laws of nature - to be sacred.  Being a good German, Hegel is very much tuned in to the fact that different nations and cultures have different characteristics, a different spirit and a distinctive life.  Americans view everyone as being the same as us, but with some inexplicable peculiarities.

Hegel also is reluctant to embrace the Greek belief in the circular nature of government from aristocracy to oligarchy to democracy, and instead tends towards a view of humanity in a state of progress.  The Germany of his time might be a candidate for this belief, since the German people had been raised upon from barbarism to an advanced state by Christianity.  The idea that we are in a cyclic situation didn't seem to fit.

What really stuck out to me is the idea that the constitution of a country would necessarily be distinctive in that it reflect the religion and culture:

"We shall have to show further on that the constitution adopted by a people makes one substance — one spirit: — with its religion, its art and philosophy, or, at least, with its conceptions and thoughts — its culture generally; not to expatiate upon the additional influences, ab extra, of climate, of neighbors, of its place in the World."

If this is the case, the secularists attempt to decouple the constitution from religion and culture will have some complications:

"... for in secular matters only force and voluntary subservience are the principles of action; and the forms which are called Constitutions are in this case only a resort of necessity, and are no protection against mistrust."

My sense is that Hegel is doubly right as we apply this to our current era.  We haven't really succeeded to move beyond the principle that constitutions are derived from religion, but instead have embraced this notion to its fullest:  The SCOTUS has duly recognized that America has a new religion and culture now.  Before we were a Christian nation.  Now we each worship our lusts, desires and envy.  These are our gods.  Hard work was our former culture value.  Sloth is the new one.  Before we wrung our hands over slavery.  Today we have embraced slavery to vice sponsored by the government and available to all races.  Our art is the art of desecration.  Yes, our Constitution perfectly reflects our religion.

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