*******Comparing Definitions of Freedom: The Source of Our Dilemma
By Timothy N. Baldwin, JD.
September 13, 2011
Most people do not relate politics to philosophy, but that is exactly what they should be doing if they care to know the roots of the fruit growing from the trees of society and government. If they did, more could be done to communicate effectively to both citizen and politician. History tends to prove that public awareness regarding political philosophy grows out of mere circumstances which force basic reaction instead of intellectual response. Fortunately, it appears the United States is due for an awakening of freedom as the philosophy leading us down the road of slavery is at a natural end. But to hasten its end, this series of articles is written to educate the political student and concerned citizen about the origins of philosophy used to get the United States to where it is today.
You have likely heard the American Declaration of Independence described as an expression of new concepts relating to man, politics, and government. Some have gone so far as to describe it as “God-inspired.” Historically, this description is not true. The Declaration of Independence was a reflection of ideas presented by philosophers of the Enlightenment Period (approx. 1630-1800) and in particular, John Locke (1632-1704). Some of the verbiage used by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence was all but direct quotes from John Locke’s An Essay Concerning The True Original Extend and End of Civil Government. Some have even accused Thomas Jefferson of plagiarism given its similarities. Their comparisons in the endnote below prove this.
The foundational concepts the American Colonies used to secede from Great Britain were not new. They were specific ideologies expressed and expounded by philosophers for at least 150 years. Ironically, a 150 year period of development of ideology which created the renowned “freest nation on earth” suffocated just after the birth of the United States. No sooner had Enlightenment philosophy created the United States of America in 1776, a new philosophy had infiltrated and eventually revolutionized the politics of the United States. It destroyed the foundational concepts of the “State.” This new philosophy began by a person known as “the Aristotle of the Modern Age”:
Georg Wilheim Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831)
Hegel and his like attempted to prove through the science of philosophy that the STATE was the only way through which subjective freedom is realized. Instead of the State existing for the people, the people existed for the State. Hegel used the word “freedom” often in his work and uplifted its importance. That sounds nice—until you realize his definition of “freedom” meant something entirely different than it did to Enlightenment philosophers and the United States’ founding generation. Likewise, when politicians today use words such as “freedom,” “liberty,” “equality,” etc., their use of these words have a fundamental difference from those who sowed the seeds of liberty from 1630 to 1787.
For those who do not know, Hegel’s work was Karl Marx’ text book. Marx studied Hegel intently and used his philosophy as a basis and justification for his political works on communism. Adolf Hitler likewise used many of Hegel’s ideologies to justify his reign in Germany and the extermination of the Jews who threatened his goals of a strong nation of patriotic Germans.
Before you discount the significance of Hegel’s philosophical work on our own nation’s political philosophy, consider: it is a fact that the public education system in American has been shaped and determined by those who purposely incorporated Hegelian philosophy. In particular, an ardent student and follower of Hegel was William Torrey Harris, who literally changed the landscape of education in the United States. In 1889, Harris was appointed U.S. Commissioner of Education, a position he held until 1906. Since Hegel’s Philosophy of Right was published, “top educators” have incorporated his principles into all of American public education, including the highest learning institutions. It has been deeply woven into the fabric of U.S. society and government ever since.
When one compares and contrasts the ideology of the Enlightenment Period with Hegel’s work, the why’s and how’s of societal, political, and constitutional development become very plain to see. We continually hear the questions from concerned Americans, “how do we take our country back?” and the like. I say, look no further than the comparison of philosophies adopted by the United States higher political and educational institutions during its existence. From 1787 to mid-1800, the Enlightenment philosophy prevailed. From late 1800s to today, the Hegelian prevails.
If you are serious about “getting our country back” to the values that made the United States what it was—the principles which formed the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and United States Constitution—you must start with the higher thoughts of cognition: philosophy.
In the forthcoming parts of this article, we will compare and contrast the concepts advanced by Hegel with Enlightenment philosophy. At the conclusion of the article series, we should have an understanding of how to approach politicians and require them to answer these vital questions of philosophy. Whether they realize it or not, they likely fall into one or the other. They should be held accountable to which philosophy their actions and beliefs adhere. And the people are the ones to highlight and expose this.
We will explore the following topics:
A. Individual Freedom and State Supremacy
B. Formation and Purpose of the State
C. Interpreting and Applying the Constitution
D. Republicanism and Democracy
E. The People’s Right of Revolution
September 20, 2011
September 20, 2011
A. Individual Freedom and State Supremacy
One of the most fundamental issues concerning the formation of society, government, and federations is the lines of individual freedom verses government power. For the States and United States, there are no two philosophical schools of thought more influential on this matter than the philosophies of the Enlightenment period and Georg Hegel. As shown in Part 1, the United States was emphatically founded on Enlightenment philosophy; but in the late 1800s, Hegel’s philosophy greatly influenced and controlled the minds and actions of American law, politics, and education. However, the two philosophies are hardly compatible and form completely different structures of governance. When both are used by American politicians, collision is inevitable.
According to Hegel, the existence of “freedom” has its foundation in the “origin in the will” (Georg Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Ed. University of Chicago, Trnsl. T.M. Knox, [Encyclopedia Britannica, Oxford University Press, 1952]). The will goes through a process leading to self-consciousness; thus, to “posit any content in himself by his own effort”. Hegel calls the destination of this process “individuality”. From this individuality, the will creates specific determinations and seeks to realize them. In short, the individual attempts to accomplish in real life what his will desires.
Hegel claims that for the individual to objectify his will, his subjective determinations must be made “universal” through an objective forum, or else, his will remains in a non-rational condition—like an animal. Hegel says, “the absolute goal…of free mind is to make its freedom its object, i.e. to make freedom objective as much in the sense that freedom shall be the rational system of mind, as in the sense that this system shall be the world of immediate actuality”. In a word, subjective freedom must have a rational method through which to objectify or make real his freedom. Hegel calls this kind of freedom, Moral Freedom, Idea of Freedom, and Ethical Life.
Hegel determines that this individual realizes this moral freedom through the State. Hegel says, “[t]he State is the actuality of the ethical Idea.”. To Hegel, the State is the only means through which individual freedom has any objectivity in individual freedom. He reasons in this manner, “Whoever wills to act in this world of actuality has eo ipso [by the thing itself] submitted himself to its laws and recognized the right of objectivity…In this objective field, the right of [objective] insight is valid as insight into the legal or illegal”. Hegel further reasons, “the nature of man consists precisely in the fact that he is essentially something universal, not a being whose knowledge is an abstractly momentary and piecemeal affair” (Ibid). Hegel means, exercising objective Moral Freedom is only accomplished by complying with the laws of the State.
Hegel sets forth premises to justify his position regarding “objective freedom”, stating, “the origin of evil in general is to be found in the mystery of [individual] freedom”. In other words, evil arises out of the subjective will without the State’s laws to determine whether those actions comply with objective freedom (i.e. legal or illegal). All individual freedom without the State amounts to irrationality, absurdity, and contradiction. In particular, Hegel is extremely sensitive about people in society who might claim their actions comport to a higher law than man’s law (i.e. natural and divine law). In mocking these positions, Hegel touts, “You actually accept a law…and respect it as absolute. So do I, but I go further than you, because I am beyond this law and can make it to suit myself”. Of course, this higher law Hegel mocks is the same law upon which the Enlightenment philosophy is based—the foundation of American jurisprudence.
Hegel’s disdain for the Enlightenment philosophy is clear when he states in part, “this babble has made reasonable men just as sick of the words ‘reason,’ ‘enlightenment,’ and ‘right,’ &c., as of the words ‘constitution’ and ‘freedom’.” Hegel believes the Enlightenment philosophy is incredible because it is based upon reason and logic, and not upon the “concept of the State.” Hegel presupposes that since logic is based upon interpretations deduced by human mind, logic will interfere with the concept of the State, which is to objectify subjective freedom. Thus, Hegel believes the Enlightenment philosophy of America’s independence is not only unreasonable and contradictory, but evil because logic cannot and must not get in the way of the “concept of the State.”
To prevent this “evil” in society where people claim a higher law than man’s law, thus abusing their freedom, Hegel concludes, “the ethical order is freedom or the absolute will as what is objective, a circle of necessity whose moments are the ethical powers which regulate the life of individuals”. “Ethical freedom” is the STATE, to determine all objective freedom for the individual. Notice as well that Hegel equates “freedom” with the “absolute will” of the State. Thus, to a Hegelian, society is free where the State has absolute control over individuals.
Hegel further states, the State’s power “is an absolute authority and power infinitely more firmly established than the being in nature”. Since the power of the State is absolute and its power is infinite, it follows that “these laws and institutions are duties binding on the will of the individual” regardless of logic, reason, and the purposes and ends of society and government. The STATE is the end unto itself because only it is reality.
Even more than the individual having a duty to submit to this absolute State authority, Hegel declares that the individual’s destiny “is fulfilled when they belong to an actual ethical order [i.e. State], because their conviction of their freedom finds its truth in such an objective order, and it is in an ethical order [i.e. State] that they are actually in possession of their own essence or their own inner universality”. Hegel means, an individual is destined to be a subject of a State and his essence as a human is fulfilled by being subject to the absolute will of the State. Upon these premises, Hegel ultimately finds that individual rights are found not in nature or God, but in the State. He says, “by being in the ethical order [i.e. State] a man has rights”.
Hegel finds that individuals are completely inferior to the State in all regards: in life, liberty, and property. A “patriot” of the State is one who sees his interests as subservient to the interests of the State; he must act in accordance with all state laws and institutions. Hegel says,
“[a]s the substance of the individual subject, it is his political sentiment [patriotism];…as the substance of the objective world, it is the organism of the state. The political sentiment, patriotism pure and simple, is assured conviction with truth as its basis…In this sense it is simply a product of the institutions subsisting in the state, since rationality is actually present in the state, while action in conformity with these institutions gives rationality its practical proof.”.
Clearly stated, Hegel determines that patriotism equates to obedience to the State in all regards. More than a person being patriotic by recognizing his objective freedom through the State, the individual must sacrifice his life, liberty, and property to and for the State. Hegel determines, “[the individual’s] relation [to the State] and the recognition of it is therefore the individual’s substantive duty, the duty to maintain this substantive individuality, i.e. the independence and sovereignty of the state, at the risk and the sacrifice of property and life”. Hegel further states that “[s]acrifice on behalf of the individuality of the state is the substantial tie between the state and all its members and so is a universal duty.”. Were a person to invoke natural rights granted by God to protect his life, liberty, and property against the State, or were a person to even question the actions or authority of government, Hegel would find that person to be ipso facto unpatriotic.
Quite clearly, under Hegel’s philosophy, the State is absolutely and infinitely supreme; and the individual has a duty to sacrifice his life and property for the State because the individuals’ “objective freedom” cannot exist except by the State. The individual exists for the State; not the State for the individual. This duty to sacrifice one’s life, liberty, and property for the State is universal in time and conditions regardless of whether the State is in a state of war or peace and regardless of constitution. If the State requires the sacrifice, the individual must make the sacrifice; and the State is the sole determiner of its own needs. Put inversely, the State is the sole determiner of which individuals need to sacrifice for the State; and this determination has nothing to do with reason or logic, but only with the “concept of the State.”
By Hegel’s own admission, these ideas contrast sharply to the ones which founded and birthed the United States of America and its constitutions: the Enlightenment Period.
The American Declaration of Independence mirrors Enlightenment philosophy. Even someone who is only vaguely familiar with the Declaration would recognize its principles are incompatible with Hegel’s philosophy. The Declaration recognizes the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Hegel recognizes no such right. In the Declaration, the State is not the method of obtaining objectivity of freedom, but is the protector of freedom and is ultimately under the control of the people for whose benefit it was created.
These concepts were specifically advanced by Enlightenment philosophy and were described as immutable. Samuel Pufendorf says, “the fundamental laws of nature [are] truth and necessity aris[ing] directly from the very character of human nature; and [are] conclusions…deduced from these principles” (Pufendorf, Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence, Ed. Knud Haakonssen, [Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, IN, 2009],). Thus expressed in the Declaration, “We hold these truths to be self-evident”. For the American colonies, the belief that God judged the actions of mankind equipped them to secede from Great Britain, given the truth of individual freedom and limitations of State power.
To Hegel, there was no “immutable truths” of right and wrong relative to the State’s judgments and actions. There was only the power of the State. To Hegel, the ultimate judge is not God, as the Declaration declares (“the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions”). Rather, the “history of the world [is] the world’s court of judgement” (Hegel, Philosophy of Right,). As will be seen in this article’s subsequent parts, this Hegelian concept of “history” has a fundamental bearing on how those in political power control the State.
As a fundamental premise of understanding human nature, society, and government, John Locke explains that individual freedom is found in the laws of Nature created by God. Individual freedom is a natural, inherit right granted by the Creator of life and matter. He states that political power (i.e. the State) is founded not upon the “concept of the State” but rather upon this: “all men are naturally in…a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of Nature” (Locke, Concerning Civil Government,). Civil liberty was substantively a matter of “life, liberty, health, and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things such as money, houses, furniture, and the like” (Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration, Ed. Charles Sherman, [D. Appleton-Century Company, 1937],). It was a matter of individual freedom. Thus, “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions” (John Locke, Concerning Civil Government, Ed. Alexander Campbell Fraser, [Oxford University Press, 1952],). This law of nature restricts government as well, for at least “they are subject to the Divine sovereignty and the law of nature” (Samuel Pufendorf, Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence,).
Upon the recognition that God created man, individual freedom contains the right to use the grants of God for the individual’s benefit. Locke states, “for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise Maker; all the servants of one sovereign Master, sent into the world by His order and about His business; they are His property, whose workmanship they are made to last during His, not another’s pleasure.” (Locke, Concerning Civil Government,). By definition, the State is not the objective form of individual freedom. Enlightenment philosophers acknowledged that the individual, as a workmanship of God, is a moral being, answerable to God primarily and man secondarily. This philosophy acknowledges that God equips individuals with certain rights independent of society and government. The State is not the objectivity of rights, as Hegel proposes. God is.
With this individual freedom, God grants to him certain authority respective of his rights. Samuel Pufendorf recognizes that “[a]uthority over persons and actions which are one’s own is called liberty” (Two Books on the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence,). Where no individual authority exists, no individual liberty exists. Thus, were individual freedom to exist only through the power of the State, no liberty would exist at all; it would depend entirely on the State’s arbitrary control or otherwise. To the Enlightenment, individual liberty is a matter of individual ownership sanctioned by God and is not subject to arbitrary control of the State.
Individual freedom, or as referenced in philosophical terms, individual morality, is something imposed upon individuals by God, not the State as Hegel proposes. This individual morality and freedom exists independently of the State. Samuel Pufendorf puts it this way, “[morality] does not derive its origin from the arbitrary imposition of men [i.e. government], but only from the disposition of God himself, who has so formed the nature of man that particular actions of necessity are or are not congruent with this nature” (Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence,).
So, while government may unjustly interfere with individual freedom, we suffer only while evils are sufferable. At some point, individuals may invoke their right and command of freedom and may do as the Declaration states, “alter or — abolish it, and — institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” Without the concept of individual freedom and rights, there is hardly room for John Locke’s definition of tyranny: “tyranny is the exercising of power beyond right” (Concerning Civil Government). Of course, Hegel does not recognize such a definition of tyranny because he does not recognize natural rights of the individual outside of the power of the State. How can the State exceed powers when it is the realization of the individual’s freedom?
This concept of unilaterally executing individual freedom was not new. John Locke stated it clearly in his works as noted in part 1 of this series. Samuel Pufendorf stated the same thing before Thomas Jefferson, saying, “since he to whom sovereignty is given possesses otherwise no right over me, and therefore holds by my mere free will whatever authority he has over me, it is assuredly patent that it rests with me how far I care to admit his sovereignty over me” (Two Books on the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence). Were it not for the supremacy of individual freedom, this right to change, abolish, or secede from government would not be possible. Quite obviously, Enlightenment philosophy rejected what Hegel advocated and placed significant value on the individual as a creation of God with individual freedom.
Tragically, from the late 1800s until today in America, many in the highest levels of education and politics have adopted the principles advocated by Hegel. Many of them have openly admitted this; others not so bold hide their Hegelian beliefs in Enlightenment terminology. These Hegelians have largely influenced the direction of constitutional law and political direction of the United States. Even a shallow study would reveal this, and these subsequent articles will reveal more of this truth.
As a result, the United States has undergone a change in character to the point that it is unrecognizable as the same country. Instead of wanting individual freedom, many Americans prefer government intervention, management, and control—just as Hegel (and Marx) envisioned—in contradiction to foundationsl principles of constitutional republicanism and democracy.
To return to true American principles, citizens and their representatives must reject the Hegelian supposition of State power and authority relative to individual freedom, and once again place preeminence on the value of God’s creation of the individual, who has the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness independent of government.
Furthermore, we must question authority as it has been told to us. We must require our agents to reconcile their positions of constitutional law and politics with the fundamental notion of individual freedom. If their positions do not reconcile with this fundament tenet of American jurisprudence and philosophy, they may be a Hegelian in disguise.
Subsequent articles are forthcoming on the remaining topics, and will be designed to offer the political student with more tools to judge actions with philosophy.
September 24, 2011
September 24, 2011
Formation and Purpose of the StateHegel Philosophy
As discussed in Part 2 of this article series, the State is the objectivity of individual freedom, in Hegel’s view. The State’s power is absolute and supreme in all regards. This objectivity of individual freedom is simultaneously the purpose of the State, because as Hegel puts it, the individual’s destiny is fulfilled by being subject to the State. There is no defined “purpose” of the State as it relates to natural law, constitution, logic, or reason. Rather, to Hegel, the real question is not for what purpose was the State created; but rather, what is the “concept of the State.” It matters not why a State is formed; it only matters that it exist. Once it exists, its purpose is accomplished by whatever actions it executes. The State’s purpose and power are thus coterminous.
Upon this supposition, Hegel rejects sentiments that the State is not “doing its job” or is “violating the social compact” to which it must adhere to be considered legitimate authority. To Hegel, the State’s authority exists independent of any purposes of formation whether in natural or constitutional law. “The people” as the creator of society and government is not even a factor in determining government power (a subject to be addressed in detail in a subsequent article series). The State’s subjects only need to consider what the State determines to be law at that time and obey. As Hegel puts it, this is the individual’s universal duty to the State (see, Part 2).
Hegel rejects the Enlightenment philosophy that society and government are formed on principles of social compact. Hegel states, “the notion of a contractual relation between him [i.e. government] and his people…stands opposed to the Idea of ethical life” (Georg Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Ed. University of Chicago, Trnsl. T.M. Knox, [Encyclopedia Britannica, Oxford University Press, 1952]). This term “Idea of ethical life” means, to Hegel, the absolute power of the State as supreme over the individuals in society; so, the idea of a social compact stands opposed to the power of the State. Natural and constitutional limitations upon the State do not exist. By definition, there is no such thing as the “purpose” for forming society and government. There is only the “Idea of ethical life”—that is, the State’s absolute power.
When considering the position held by Enlightenment philosophers, as used for the foundation of the United States of America, one sees that Hegel’s views of the formation and purpose of government stands in sharp contrast and contradiction to original American ideals. It certainly plays a significant role in how politicians see their powers relative to the constitution and citizens of the State, all the while claiming we are “free.” Let us consider now the Enlightenment view of the purpose of the State.
Throughout Enlightenment philosophy, there was a consistent theme regarding the formation of society and government. This theme was, there is a defined purpose for forming a State and that purpose is a lens through which to judge government actions. This purpose is found in both nature and constitution. The rationale and basis rest on this: (1) God created man with inherit, inalienable rights and the authority to enforce and protect those rights, and (2) an oath is implicitly or expressly imposed upon every person serving in public capacity for the good of the people (See, Ezekiel 17:16; Ecclesiastes 8:2-5; Psalm 55:20; Amos 1:9).
Since being in a state of nature poses problems with individuals being able to protect their God-given freedom and rights, people form government to serve as their common will and force of protecting those rights from within and without. The people’s rights are original, and government’s power is fiduciary. Locke explains that in a state of nature, since men have a right to judge their own cause without control or appeal, it may be that justice will not be served systematically given our nature of self-preference. Complete individual sovereignty (as in a state of nature) would render each person capable of defining when he is “hurt” and thus is entitled to enforce his right absolutely. Not much speculation is needed to see how such a state of complete individual sovereignty would render that society chaotic.
Ironically, complete, unfettered individual freedom would render that society at constant war, ultimately to be controlled by those with enough power and resources to buy the loyalty of those less capable. Eventually, tribal wars overcome those people, and a dictatorship results, as history shows. For this cause, “civil government is the proper remedy for the inconveniences of the state of Nature” (John Locke, Concerning Civil Government, Ed. Alexander Campbell Fraser, [Oxford University Press, 1952]). Concepts such as damage, hurt, obligation, duty, liability, etc. are thus defined in law so the people may know how to conduct their behavior and may enforce their rights through civil, peaceful means.
Neither complete individual sovereignty nor complete state sovereignty complies with the state of human nature and experience, according to Enlightenment philosophy. Government is needed; but it needs be limited by constitution and purpose. Individual freedom is a right, but the absolute and indiscriminate exercise of it is (partially) surrendered in exchange for the common will through the State. Thus, government regulates the people of that society by the constitution they create and through laws passed pursuant thereto; but the people watch and check the government for violations of that constitution created to protect their rights and enjoy the utility of their common will. This is an Enlightenment principle of the State.
Locke declares the State’s general purpose as “the preservation of property”, which he describes as one’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as well as lands, houses, &c. The importance and preeminence of private property is the pillar of freedom: to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor; to supply income and sustenance; to provide for one’s family; and to promote industry and improvement of lifestyle—this being done not in state of nature form, but rather in state of society, constitutional form. In like vein, Emer de Vattel explains that the State is formed “to protect and defend” the citizen, and it must “lay the foundation of its own preservation, safety, perfection, and happiness” (Law of Nations, [Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2008]). Thus, the State’s constitution empowers government to protect private property through passing and enforcing laws.
The State cannot violate these purposes and still be considered legitimate. The people have a right to hold the State accountable to their natural and constitutional purposes. Just as an individual has a right to protect his freedom against an individual in a state of nature, he also has a right to be free from the force of laws to which he has not consented in a state of society. Locke explains that men possess natural liberty “to be free from any superior power on earth…[and] to be under no other legislative power but that established by consent in a commonwealth, nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative shall enact according to the trust put in it.” (Concerning Civil Government).
One’s consent relates directly to the “trust” (i.e. fiduciary) purpose of the State and its natural and constitutional limitations. Government force creating submission of individuals can never equate to consent. Thus, Hegel’s notion of “the concept of the State” equating to absolute power over its subjects contradicts the Enlightenment understanding that legitimate authority comes by way of the State fulfilling its purpose and not usurping the authority individuals possess.
The Declaration of Independence mirrors these Enlightenment sentiments. Namely, it reiterates: “all men are created equal, [and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. Upon this foundation, the colonies seceded from Great Britain because each Colony determined for itself that being political, constitutionally, and legally connected to their government (of hundreds of years) no longer satisfied the purpose for which Great Britain was established and for which the Colonies were formed; namely, to preserve and protect property (i.e. life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, &c). Ultimately, this is the question each society (i.e. county, state, or region) of each generation must answer for itself.
Observation and Conclusion
The consequences of these two philosophies should be obvious and indeed are significant in all regards of one’s daily life. Where Hegel presents no purpose of the State but only its “concept” and thus absolute power, those subjects are destined for either slavery or to fight their way to positions of political power so they can escape the chains placed upon subject status. Insider favors and corruption are rampant in that State. Loving one’s neighbor as himself is hardly a “Golden Rule.”
Autocratic control, police and military force are the “rule of law.” Education is propaganda, controlled, and centralized; it indoctrinates all students to be good State patriots. The State has little to no incentive to limit its actions to standards of justice and decency. It seeks to expand itself and limit or destroy competition against its power. It only commands and expects obedience. When a subject invokes individual rights over the laws of the State, that subject is ignored or trampled by the State—and to Hegel, rightfully so.
In contrast, where a society understands the natural and expressed purpose of forming the State and its education develops the notions of natural and constitutional law, as did the Enlightenment, the people quite willingly serve as the watchman and overseers of government. The people hold the power of the State and its direction. They are intent to ensure that the laws comply with the constitution of the State to meet its purposes and to ensure their happiness and protection of individual rights and property. The people are ever vigilant in demanding their rights be not usurped by government power. Education emphasizes individual responsibility, character, honesty, and authority. The Golden Rule is happily followed for each knows that if a neighbor’s rights can be usurped by government, so can his. The State has much incentive to limit its actions to the standards of justice and decency, knowing the people will not accept corruption and tyranny. Government regulates in good faith compliance with the natural and expressed purposes of that State. Politicians are students of political philosophy and protectors of individual freedom; they are not seekers of personal gain and aggrandizement.
When the Enlightenment philosophy is abandoned, the vacuum is quickly filled with Hegelian concepts, like what happened in the United States soon after its formation. Understanding the formation and purpose of the State is crucial to understanding the next article series, which is “Interpreting and Applying the Constitution.” As will be seen, not defining the purpose of the State translates into the lack of constitutional limitations and actually creates a disdain for constitutional limitations as originally created by the people of the State.
From this Hegelian notion of no purpose comes the notion of the “living constitution” we have heard in the United States for over 100 years. Some have attempted to make the “living constitution” an American constitutional principle. In truth, it is a Hegelian principle. It is this Hegelian “concept of the State” (i.e. absolute power of the State) that has equipped less-than-honorable politicians and others with intent of subterfuge to convince the people that their actions are “constitutional” while at the same time they accomplish their goals as a Hegelian.
September 30, 2011
Interpreting and Applying the ConstitutionHegel Philosophy
Hegel’s philosophy on interpreting and applying the constitution of a State is perhaps the most tangible and evident as it relates to constitutional law and political direction in the United States. Hegel’s view of the constitution is similar to his view on the formation and purpose of the State as discussed in Part 3. As will be seen in this discussion, many politicians and office holders in the United States have, knowingly or not, adopted Hegel’s view of our federal and state constitutions. Consequently, it is destroying the very nature of the constitutions themselves and is accomplishing Hegel’s vision of the State.
Hegel determines that a State’s constitution need not be interpreted and applied in light of the framers’ intent and purposes. Hegel says, “Another question readily presents itself here: ‘Who is to frame the constitution?’ This question…is meaningless[.] [I]t is absolutely essential that the constitution should not be regarded as something made, even though it has come into being in time. It must be treated rather as something simply existent in and by itself” (Georg Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Ed. University of Chicago, Trnsl. T.M. Knox, [Encyclopedia Britannica, Oxford University Press, 1952]). Just as the purpose of the State is not to be considered when factoring the power of the State (see, Part 3), Hegel likewise determines the organic meaning of the constitution is not to be considered. To Hegel, there are no reference points or “first principles” in interpreting and applying the State’s constitution.
To Hegel, a constitution is a living organism—taking a life of its own—to change and develop as society changes and develops without the need for formal amendments or the people’s expressed consent. The change and development of society is not determined by the people, but by government. The constitution is the State’s method of objectifying through laws its subjective will. Hegel states, “the constitution…depends in general on the character and development of its self-consciousness. In its self-consciousness its subjective freedom is rooted and so, therefore, is the actuality of its constitution”.
Expressly stated, Hegel finds that the constitution’s development must be realized by government. Hegel puts no merit in the notion that the constitution’s original meaning and purpose must be applied to the actions and laws of government. Instead, the government’s actions and laws define the constitution as a developing idea of self-consciousness. The constitution is less about limitations upon government and more about empowering government so there will be no restrictions in its self-consciousness development.
Hegel describes the constitution as “rational” as long as the State carries out its powers in accordance with its concept—to objectify “freedom” for individuals in society (see, Part 2). To further understand Hegel’s concept of a constitution being “rational”, one must understand what he describes as constitutional powers of the State.
First, Hegel describes the rational constitution by describing the “power of the Crown”, saying that “this absolute self-determination constitutes the distinctive principle of the power of the crown”. Hegel finds that a constitution must have a sovereign power of government in one person, and this sovereign power equates to the “universality of the constitution and laws”. In other words, the crown contains universal power of the State according to its “concept”. It must have the power to carry out the State’s will, not considering natural law and constitutional limitations.
Second, Hegel sees the legislature body as being merely “a mediating organ” between the people and the sovereign power. To Hegel, any and all branches of government are not purposed to check each other; but rather, to act as an aggregate of the same unit. They are sort of team players playing different positions. In fact, Hegel finds the separate branches of government to be an absurd notion contrary to the “concept of the State.” Undermining the Enlightenment philosophy, Hegel says that any opposition the legislators present to the executive “is reduced to a show”. “There may indeed be an appearance of opposition between them,” Hegel says, “but if they were opposed, not merely superficially, but actually in substance, then the state would be in the throes of destruction”. To Hegel, actual opposition within government hinders its self-development, which is universally executed by the crown. The legislators serve more as spokesmen for the interests of particular groups; not as advocates to protect inalienable rights of the people and collective rights of society and to check the power of the executive.
In Hegel’s view, both executive and legislative branches serve not as representatives of the people or holders of the constitution. They act as organisms of the State—the developing self-consciousness of its constitution. Their purpose is to carry out the self-determinative will of the State. The constitution is primarily the power of the State carry out laws according to the ever changing character of its will. Hegel expressly says,
“The patriotic sentiment [i.e. universal duty to submit to the laws and institutions of the State] acquires its specifically determined content from the various members of the organism of the state.
This organism is the development of the Idea to its differences and their objective actuality…Throughout this process the universal maintains its identity, since it is itself the presupposition of its own production. This organism is the constitution of the state”.
A “rational constitution” is one of power, not limitation. There are no fundamental notions of rights, freedoms, liberties, etc., which are to limit the action of the State. This would get in the way of the “organism” being able to grow and thrive as the objectification of reality; for as Hegel puts it, “[that State’s] end is the universal interest”. This universal interest is determined by the crown and his mediators (i.e. legislators) and by whatever factors influence those controlling State actions. Once that universal interest is determined and executed, the State has conformed to a “rational constitution.”
The Enlightenment philosophy cannot be more polemical to Hegel’s concepts of a constitution. To Enlightenment philosophers, substantial priority was placed on the States’ constitution, necessarily including its formation, interpretation, application, and preservation. This philosophy was, of course, the adopted view of the United States’ founding fathers (See, U.S. Constitution, Art. 6).
Emer de Vattel defines a constitution as the “fundamental regulation that determines the manner in which the public authority is to be executed” (Law of Nations, [Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2008]). Vattel describes the constitution in terms of authority extended with limitations so that government may “obtain those advantages with a view to which the political society was established”. Clearly, Vattel’s description anticipates both the advantages to society and those individuals comprising it, as well as the purpose for which the State was created.
“The perfection of a state, and its aptitude to attain the ends of society,” Vattel says, “must then depend on its constitution”. Again, the “ends of society”—namely, to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of individuals—is the purpose of the constitution. Therefore, Vattel emphasizes the importance of creating a constitution grounded in sound principles of natural law. Vattel states, “[the state’s] first and most essential duty towards itself, is to chuse the best constitution possible, and that most suitable to its circumstances…[for] its own preservation, safety, perfection, and happiness”.
This perspective of a constitution was extremely important because in the view of Enlightenment philosophers “this constitution is a vain phantom, and the best laws are useless, if they be not religiously observed: the nation ought then to watch very attentively, in order to render them equally respected by those who govern, and by the people destined to obey. To attack the constitution of the state, and to violate its laws, is a capital crime against society”. In contrast to the “living constitution” concept advocated by Hegel, Vattel clearly describes a constitution as being fixed in principles and original in meaning; and for this reason states, “[the state] cannot take too much care in place [its preservation, safety, perfection, and happiness] on a solid basis”. Thus, the United States Supreme Court before correctly iterated,
“We are bound to interpret the Constitution in light of the law as it existed at the time it was adopted, not as reaching out for new guaranties of the rights of the citizen, but as securing to every individual such as he already possessed as a British subject—such as his ancestors had inherited and defended since the days of Magna Carta.” Mattox v. United States, 156 U.S. 237, 243 (1895).
Were a constitution a living development of self-consciousness as Hegel describes, there would be no real need in creating a “solid” constitution. By nature it would be fluid and changeable upon the discretion of those in government power. Wherever power was needed to accomplish the State’s subjective will, power was used; and that was considered the “rational constitution”, according to Hegel.
This was not the case with the Enlightenment philosophers. Just the opposite, Hegel’s view of the State’s constitution was considered a capital offense against society. Vattel charges the people of the State not only to serve as watch dogs to State officials, but also to resist them. Vattel observes,
“The nation ought constantly to repress them with its utmost vigour and vigilance, as the importance of the case requires. It is very uncommon to see the laws and constitution of a state openly and boldly opposed: it is against silent and gradual attacks that a nation ought to be particularly on its guard…It would be rendering nations an important service, to shew from history, how many states have thus entirely changed their nature, and lost their original constitution. This would awaken the attention of mankind:--impressed thenceforward with this excellent maxim, principiis obsta [‘Resist the first advances’]”.
The Declaration of Independence, the foundation of American ideology, said the same thing, declaring, “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” Thus, a constitution’s true meaning being solid, only to change upon the will of the people, is the Enlightenment approach and the foundation of American constitutional law. This approach fundamentally serves as a limitation on government and protection of individuals’ rights, even if it means the movement of government is stifled and not efficient.
Observations and Conclusion
There is a striking difference between Hegel’s and the Enlightenment’s view of interpreting and applying the constitution. Interestingly, many politicians in the United States claim the U.S. constitution and State constitutions are “living” without regard to the active determination and effectuation of the people’s will. Such a proposition is blatantly incorrect and shows either ignorance or machination.
Tragically, many judges, attorneys, sheriffs, police chiefs, and other State and federal officials have adopted Hegel’s view of the constitution; and most law schools advocate the same notion. For example, consider the United States’ Supreme Court decision in 1920 which adopted this Hegelian view of the U.S. constitution:
“[W]hen we are dealing with words that also are a constituent act, like the Constitution of the United States, we must realize that they have called into life a being the development of which could not have been foreseen completely by the most gifted of its begetters. It was enough for them to realize or to hope that they had created an organism.” Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416, 434 (1920).
This statement conforms precisely to Hegel’s philosophy of the State. Moreover, this court expressly used Hegel’s concepts (see, Part 3). When the U.S. Supreme Court uses concepts like this to reach its decisions, it is no wonder why we have presidents who claim the U.S. Constitution should or need not be followed as intended by the founders. Case in point: Obama said, the United States needs to break “free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.” According to Obama, the tool to accomplish this is, of course, the “living, breathing constitution.” This has been a widely used “constitutional” view and is mostly a justification to enlarge the power of the federal government and decrease the power of the states and individuals. Consequently, the constitution’s original character has been undermined decision by decision—and by force. It has largely been successful, regardless of conservative rhetoric from politicians.
These people’s oath to uphold our constitutions are shadowy at best because they uphold something entirely different than what the constitution envisioned—a philosophy which created the soil and roots of Karl Marx’s communism and Adolph Hitler’s autocracy, and its degenerative affect continues in America. Considering most practicalities, Hegel’s philosophy has accomplished what Emer de Vattel describes as a nation whose character has been changed and constitution destroyed by the slow and gradual attacks upon the principles which formed the constitution.
Office holders and seekers should be chained to the questions regarding this subject. Without a public understanding of this philosophy, Hegel’s “Idea” will continue to thrive.
October 5, 2011
Republicanism and Democracy
What is the source of political power and how it is executed? It is the question many people are asking today given the type of governance many are very dissatisfied with in the United States today. The answer to the question reveals much about how government treats citizens and how citizens respond to government; and how the constitution of the state is applied in society. Knowledge on the matter is crucial to the political student and observer of government and societal actions. Let us consider Enlightenment philosophy first, and then Hegel’s philosophy.
Charles Montesquieu goes into detail concerning the nature of States. He starts his Spirit of Laws by describing the types of government. “When the body of the people is possessed of the supreme power, it is called a democracy,” he says; “[t]here can be no exercise of sovereignty but by their suffrage” (Charles Montesquieu, Spirit of Laws, Trnsl. Thomas Nugent, [Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1952)]). Given the political power each individual holds in the exercise of the State’s sovereignty, “[a] free agent,” he says, “ought to be his own government; the legislative power should reside in the whole body of the people” (Spirit of Laws). Thus, a pure democracy is a State where the people hold all sovereignty of the State and directly pass all the laws of that State. Each citizen is his own legislator.
In discussing the disadvantages of a pure democracy, Montesquieu observes, “since [direct participation in passing laws of the State] is impossible in large states, and in small ones is subject to many inconveniences, it is fit the people should transact by their representatives what they cannot transact by themselves…The great advantage of representatives is, their capacity of discussing public affairs. For this the people collectively are extremely unfit, which is one of the chief inconveniences of a democracy”. This disadvantage is observed as well by Jean Jacques Burlamaqui, who says, “[democracy] is too weak, leaves the people too much to themselves, and tends to confusion and licentiousness” (Jean Jacques Burlamaqui, The Principles of Politic Law, [Liberty Fund, Inc., Indianapolis, IN, 2006],). The solution to the Enlightenment philosopher is a republic, as explained by Burlamaqui:
“There are two ways of finding this temperament [between an absolute monarchy and popular democracy]: The first consists in lodging the sovereignty in a council so composed, both as to the number and choice of persons, that there shall be a moral certainty of their having no other interests than those of the community, and of their being always ready to give a faithful account of their conduct. This is what we see happily practised in most republics. The second is, to limit the sovereignty of the prince…by fundamental laws”.
This is the character and nature of a republic: a State where sovereignty originates in the people and its administration is delegated in trust to representatives bound by constitutional limitations and accountable to the people for their conduct.
We need not get into further details of how a democracy or republican government operates and under what conditions they naturally thrive and maintain liberty, though they are very relevant to fully understand this subject. The highlighted observation regarding a democracy and republic is the fundamental basis on which they rest—that is, the origins and execution of sovereignty.
So, what is the common feature shared by a democracy and a republic? Answer: the people (1) possess all political sovereignty; (2) delegate it to their choosing and on their conditions; and (3) reserve the right to recall it at any time to secure their happiness and rights. Democracies and republics diverge when considering the constitutional ways of passing and executing the State’s laws.
The basis for a we-the-people State is found in natural law as discussed by Enlightenment philosophers and adopted by America’s founding fathers. The power of the people as a sovereign body politic derives from “the intention or will of God with respect to man, [which] consequently acquaints us with the law of nature” (Jean Jacques Burlamaqui, The Principles of Natural and Politic Law). In exposition of these natural laws, Burlamaqui says, “sovereignty resides originally in the people”.
The consequence of the democracy and republic foundation is that the people determine the State’s direction according to the constitution established by them. As Burlamaqui says, “[t]he only just foundation of all acquisition of sovereignty, is the consent, or the will of the people” (Burlamaqui, Principles of Politic Law). Thus, in a democracy and republic, the citizens are to respect and obey those who have been delegated the power of government, “as long as he uses his power with equity and moderation, and does not exceed the limits of his authority” (Burlamaqui, Principles of Politic Law).
The focus of this type of government is that the people ultimately and continually make the determination of correctness for the State and the people’s representatives. Where correction is to be made, the people ensure it. Where change is to be made, the people make it. Where abolition is to be made, the people make it. Where direction is given, the people give it. The sense of this kind of State is one of activism, knowledge, control, education, and responsibility. According to Enlightenment philosophy, this creates the freest States as most compatible with God’s creation and man’s constitution, and its natural conditions and limitations must be observed to maintain its true form. The American Declaration of Independence simply reiterates these principles.
Let us compare these fundamental concepts with Georg Hegel’s philosophy.
Throughout Hegel’s work, a common theme is present: the people do not possess natural and political qualities to govern themselves. They need “leaders” to tell them what is best for them. The people do not possess real sovereignty, even though individuals may have formed a State historically in time; or as Hegel says, “forms [of government] must be discussed historically or not at all” (Georg Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Ed. University of Chicago, Trnsl. T.M. Knox, [Encyclopedia Britannica, Oxford University Press]). Hegel demeans democracies and republics as an “immature” kind of State; and also undermines the Enlightenment regarding self-government as revealed by God’s creation and man’s constitution.
To Hegel, the best form of government is a heredity monarchy. Hegel says, “[t]he rights of birth and inheritance constitute the basis of legitimacy, [as] contained in the Idea [of the State]”. He dogmatically rejects even a popular elective monarchy, saying that it “stands opposed to the Idea of ethical life [and] is the worst of institutions”. Hegel finds that a hereditary monarchy is “something not deduced but purely self-originating” as it complies with the “Idea of the State” (See, Part 2). Hegel finds, “[heredity monarchy is] grounded in the authority of God”. The unconditional rule of a monarch comports to Hegel’s notion of the limitless power of the State itself.
Even more absurd to Hegel are the concepts of the democracy and republic as forms of government where “the people” possess sovereign political power. Hegel first observes, “[w]e may speak of sovereignty in home affairs residing in the people, provided that we are speaking generally about the whole state…, namely that it is to the state that sovereignty belongs”. Hegel redefines sovereignty as being an original possession of the State, not the people. There is no delegation by the people to government, but only that sovereignty exists in the State by its nature. Hegel finds that the Enlightenment understanding of sovereignty in the people “is something opposed to the sovereignty existent in the monarch”—the “best” form of government.
In a word, Hegel believes the “Idea of the State” as executed by an absolute, hereditary monarch must never be interfered with by people who would claim to hold the sovereign power of the State. More than the concept of “we the people” interfering with the “Idea of the State,” Hegel thinks it is altogether confusing and irrational. Hegel says, “the sovereignty of the people is one of the confused notions based on the wild idea of the ‘people’”. Without a monarchy, “the people is a formless mass and no longer a state,” Hegel says. Self-government as described in our Declaration of Independence, thus, is an absurd notion to Hegel.
Hegel also mocks the Enlightenment foundations of a democracy and republic. He says, “[i]f by ‘sovereignty of the people’ is understood a republic form of government…then all that is needed in reply has been said already [and] such a notion cannot be further discussed in face of the Idea of the state in its full development”. First, Hegel finds that a democracy and republic are incompatible with the “idea of the State in its full development” (See, Part 3). Second, Hegel finds that the “sovereignty of the people” in a democracy or republic is meaningless to the “idea of the State” (See, Part 4). As Hegel says, “‘Who is to frame the constitution?’ This question…is meaningless, for it presupposes that there is no constitution there, but only an agglomeration of atomic individuals”. Essentially speaking, Hegel finds no merit in the concept that the people hold sovereign political power and that a democracy or republic is a good form of government as it relates to the purpose of the State.
So, what is Hegel’s concept of sovereignty? “[S]overeignty is there as the personality of the whole [State], and this personality is there…as the person of the monarch”. In a word, sovereignty only exists as the State exists, and this sovereignty realizes in the “person of the monarch”—not because the people delegated their original power to him as their representative; but rather, it exists in him by divine ordination or by the “Judge of the World”: history.
How does one become a monarch, legislator, or potentate in such a State? To Hegel, it is based in chance and opportunity—in history—not principle, reasoning, or the will of the people. After discussing his ideas regarding sovereignty, democracies, and republics, Hegel says,
“[E]ven in those comparatively immature constitutional forms [i.e. democracy and republic], there must always be individuals at the head. Leaders must either be available already, as they are in monarchies of that type, or…they may rise to the top, as statesmen or generals, by chance and in accordance with the particular needs of the hour. This must happen, since everything done and everything actual is inaugurated and brought to completion by the single decisive act of a leader”.
To Hegel, there is only one way to realize and execute the sovereignty of the State: through the power of a leader--who is at the right place at the right time. Moreover, Hegel finds that “mature” forms of government are hereditary monarchs, and “immature” forms of government are those based upon the concept of “sovereignty in the people”. He says, “[t]he development of the state to constitutional monarchy is the achievement of the modern world, a world in which the substantial Idea has won the infinite form [of subjectivity]”.
Observations and Conclusions
It is no wonder one sees a tremendous concentration of political power throughout the 1800 and 1900s throughout the world with Hegel’s philosophy being advocated by educators, philosophers, and politicians—they being the most likely to become the “leaders” of a Hegelian State. When one considers the formulas which make a democracy and republic successful in the maintenance of liberty compared to the ingredients of Hegel’s “Ideal of the State”, a good argument could be made that more of Hegel’s ingredients make up the character of the United States than the Enlightenment philosophy.
Much could be said about this, but suffice it to say, there is one requirement universally accepted for a democracy and republic to maintain liberty. That State must comprise a small territory and population where the people know and are able to execute their interests. In truth, where society becomes complex, societies must stay relatively small to maintain control of their own destiny. Hegel admitted this as well, but rejects it as opposed to “the Idea of the State.”
To get around the inconveniences having a small territory and population poses, republics form federations with limited authority. In such a federal union, the small republics must and by right retain all sovereignty not expressly delegated to the larger republic. Both the Articles of Confederation and United States Constitution hold this federal character. It is this retention of inviolable state sovereignty which enables the small republics forming the union to stay appropriately sized and maintain the pure form of a republic to prevent developing into Hegel’s notions of a “mature” state.
Under such a federation of smaller States, democracies are naturally at disadvantage and are destined to lose all qualities which make a democracy pure in form and practice. For this reason alone, the United States of America is anything but a democracy; for it hardly meets, if any, elements of a pure democracy. Of all people who should oppose the nationalization of reserved state powers, Democrats should. Ironically, most of them today prefer big government, nationalization, and the destruction of state sovereignty. Obviously, they have not studied philosophy or history on this subject; or like many politicians, are Hegelians in disguise.
As Hegel points out concerning the State being led not by the people but by “leaders” who happen to be in the right place at the right time, the United States seems only to be led by superrich and super-powerful people who control federal politics from Washington D.C, New York City, London, and other world-power-brokerages. Even a statesman as proven, provocative, and principled as Congressman Ron Paul gets the boot by most media and by D.C, despite the success and soundness of his seasoned political and professional career. The people are only left with whoever the mega-wealthy people chose for our buffet menu; and state and federal laws ensure that it remains that way. The elitist-control of politics was attempted to be eliminated (supposedly) by replacing the Electoral College with popular vote; only to be supplanted by the national two-party system where only the “chosen” are given for the people’s choice.
A truly competitive political process or outcome is not reality. Short of the most draconian circumstances, federal and state laws are passed without even the people’s knowledge or concern. Competition of political ideas are thwarted or belittled at the first sign of growth. Yet, we are told today that power rests in the people and we live in a “free democracy.” The facts do not comport to the rhetoric.
How does a Hegelian turn a once Enlightenment society, constitution, and government into a Hegel-style State?
Simply stated, (1) the territories, population, and actions of the people must be vastly expanded and put under centralized control; (2) the smaller republics must lose their sovereignty at the expense of the larger “republic” as a development of the “idea of the State”; (3) local self-determination must be replaced with national power; (4) national power commingle with a “league of nations” agenda (as Hegel advocated); (5) fixed and original principles of constitutional government must be replaced with a living organism of state development; and (6) politics and government must be tightly controlled by a cabal of “leaders” which Hegel explains are the only ones God-ordained to rule the people in their ignorance and ineptness.
These factors naturally cause a dilution of the natural characteristics that keep a society truly democratic or republican. The effect is, people have exponentially less power, influence, and oversight over government. Each vote becomes less meaningful and important. The view of the constitution becomes more and more diverse and conflicting. The State’s direction becomes more confused and misguided. The chances of redirection, restoration, or control are increasingly diminished. The people become disenfranchised and indifferent. The struggle for political power becomes concentrated into the hands of those who have the power and money to buy or “buddy” their way to the top; all the while, the concerned common person tries to figure a way to catch up with those with literally billions of dollars at their disposal to ensure power stays put.
If we are going to return to original constitution principles and operate under pure democratic and republic principles, then we must recognize what it means to be a republic and what kind of characteristics must exist to maintain those forms of government. Perhaps constitutional amendments should be proposed and advocated to bring our original sovereignty into our hands once again. Otherwise, we are simply a fulfillment of the Hegelian dialectic State in the process of becoming what he claims happens to all “maturing” governments.
October 21, 2011
The People’s Right of Revolution
Before getting into the meat of the subject, we must understand the terms. “Revolution” is not “rebellion.” Revolution can be either peaceful or violent. Algernon Sidney discusses this in detail in his Discourses Concerning Government—a favorite of the founding fathers.
A rebellion is where a people were once conquered by a foreign nation’s conquest against them; and then afterwards, the people rise up against the conquering nation. In short, Sidney describes it as renewed war.
Where a people revolt against or separate from their own government, the term to describe their action is not rebellion or war, but revolution. And revolution, in whatever manner, is a natural right of all people, as advocated by the Enlightenment philosophers.
Upon the concept that sovereignty rests in the people (see, part 5), Enlightenment philosophers recognized not only the people’s right of revolution, but also the duty. This right and duty related not only to the dismantling of or secession from government, but also society. Put differently, the people have a natural right to dissolve a government to which they were subject and also disassociate themselves from other societies to which they were once joined. Since the Declaration of Independence mirrored Locke’s and Sidney’s thesis on the subject, consider their positions.
“[I]f a long train of abuses, prevarications, and artifices, all tending to the same way, make the design [of tyranny] visible to the people, and they cannot but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are going,” Locke says, “it is not to be wondered that they should rouse themselves, and endeavor to…secure to them the ends for which government was at first erected” (John Locke, Concerning Civil Government, Ch. XIX, Sec. 225). Sound familiar? It should.
Locke explains how this right and duty must also be exercised timely before irrevocable harm is caused. Locke says, “the state of mankind is not so miserable that they are not capable of using this remedy till it be too late to look for any. To tell people they may provide for themselves…when, by oppression, artifice, or being delivered over to a foreign power, their old one is gone, is only to tell them they may expect relief when it is too late, and the evil is past cure” (Locke, Concerning Civil Government, Sec. 220).
Even in the case of a conquered people, Algernon Sidney recognized the people’s right to overthrow the foreign rule, reverting back to the right of the people to choose their association of society and subjection to government. Sidney recognizes that “superiority is not infinite; the peace may be broken upon just grounds” (Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government, Ch. 3, Sec. 36). Sidney also observes that “title can [never] be grounded upon beneficence” (Ibid.). In other words, the argument by the government that it confers benefits to you never legitimately serves to subject to the people against their will.
To Sidney, the people’s right of rebellion or revolution is naturally limitless, observing that the “people [may] vindicat[e] their own laws and liberties against a prince who violates them” (Ibid.). “They [the people] cannot be accountable to any but themselves”, Sidney concludes (Ibid.). Thus, when the people exercise a right of revolution against or secede from their government, the judge of their actions is not government, but God.
Hegel, on the other hand, scoffs at the notions of “the people’s right,” as already discussed in parts 1-5. While Hegel does not delve specifically into the issue of revolution, his work reveals that he viewed all revolutions and wars only as a matter of history, not truth, reason, or justice. In other words, revolution was simply a sign of a development of an idea, manifested in synthetic form getting government to the “Ideal of the State.”
In sharp contrast to the United States’ founders “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of [their] intentions,” Hegel appeals to “the highest right of all”— the “history of the world” (Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Sec. 340).
Certainly, the followers of Hegel did not understand him to mean that the people could not revolt, for it was Hegel’s work that caused world-wide revolutions in the 1800 and 1900s, which lead to Marxism, Communism, and Fascism, and continue to destroy Enlightenment-based governments and societies.
Exercising the People’s Right of Revolution
One of the most difficult questions to answer regarding the people’s right to revolution is, how do the people effectuate meaningful revolution?
It is easy to say, “where we choose to revolt against government, we can do it.” It is entirely different to effectuate a revolution. Why is that?—to name a few, because (1) government naturally grows in power and control; (2) government holds the power of the military and the judicial and executive power; (3) constitutions which give government its power are largely designed to last perpetually until ended by the people; (4) constitutions give power to government to preserve itself; and (5) those who believe revolution is necessary are most always a minority of the population.
Any efforts of a people to rid themselves of unwanted government are ironically met with government reprisal. The impossibility of revolution becomes even more remote where the scope of society becomes large, complex, and diverse. The likelihood of those millions of people agreeing on the need for revolution is less than getting struck by lightning twice on the same day except under the most draconian circumstances—by then, irreparable harm has already been caused.
If human nature teaches that people are apt to “suffer evil while evils are sufferable,” then it also teaches that the people should be proactive, not just reactive. However, human history teaches that people rarely, if ever, act timely—thus creating a seemingly impossible situation.
Dissolution of Political Associations
So, what is the most effective method of revolution when normal constitutional methods have been exhausted and are fruitless? The American colonies in 1776 offer an example. Their revolution was not rebellion. It was secession—the will and act to disunite. The people of each colony simply removed themselves from existing political and societal associations. We see their expressions of dissolution in the last paragraph of the Declaration. The colonies declared,
“We…by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do” (emphasis added).
Allow me to diverge a moment. Despite the argument by some that the Declaration of Independence was not an act of secession by pointing to the language, “That these united Colonies are…Free and Independence States…,” the position is not accurate.
The colonies recognized their political allegiance, loyalty, and constitutional obligation to Great Britain just before they seceded. The premier argument against their political dissolution was that they were constitutionally bound to Great Britain—highlighted in the events surrounding Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry. This article’s purpose does not warrant a detailed exposition of this proof. History books record it in plain sight: each colony never considered itself free and independent (see, Emer de Vattel, The Law of Nations).
To say they were free and independent before this declaration, and thus, they did not secede, ignores the language which follows: “that all political connection between them [the colonies] and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved” and that “they have full Power…to do all other Acts and Things which States may of right do” (emphasis added).
First, the colonies had to sever (i.e. dissolve, secede) an existing political and constitutional relationship so they could do what the following sentence provided; that is, having the “power to do all other Acts and Things which States may of right do.”
Second, if one uses the present tense verb “are” to “prove” that they were already free and independent states, then one would have to reconcile that verb use with the present tense verb of “have full power…,” when it is undeniable that the colonies never before did all those “Acts and Things which States may of right do”. They could only act free and independent states after they seceded from the political connection which prevented their freedom and independence. Thus, the use of present tense verbs signifies that secession/dissolution was the act which empowered them to act as free and independent states. (see, John Taylor, New Views of the Constitution of the United States of America).
Third, “dissolution” was by definition an act of secession.
The colonies’ act of secession/dissolution was a natural right act of revolution.
Application to the United States of America Today
While I have been accused of being a “secessionist” (as if to accuse me as un-American, etc.), I have to respond by saying, I am too well-studied to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both sides of this issue. I have written extensively on secession and believe informed, public debate should ensue on the matter. “The truth shall set you free” (John 8:32 kjv), not ignorance and closed mindedness. A structural engineer may be asked whether it is better that an old building be repaired or demolished, and the engineer have an explanation as to both choices. However, as to the question, does the right exist? Our Enlightenment and American forefathers believed it does. I agree with them.
What circumstances would warrant revolution of secession? Let the most astute students of political and social science make their arguments. Not everyone will agree: that’s for certain. I concur with Algernon Sidney who said,
“the wisdom of man is imperfect, and unable to foresee the effects that may proceed from an infinite variety of accidents, which according to emergencies, necessarily require new constitutions, to prevent or cure the mischiefs arising from them, or to advance a good that at the first was not thought on…Changes are therefore unavoidable, and the wit of man can go no farther than to institute such, as in relation to the forces, manners, nature, religion or interests of a people and their neighbors, are suitable and adequate to what is seen, or apprehended to be seen” (Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government, Ch., Sec. 17).
This topic reminds me of the comment made by Glenn Beck last year when discussing the issue of secession. Beck said, I like the United States Constitution and do not think we should abandon it (I’m paraphrasing), as if liberty would be lost. I say with respect, Glenn Beck either misses the point or is misleading his audience for reasons unknown to me.
Secession is not about abandoning a constitution. Secession is about preserving liberty’s principles where its government has for too long abandoned them. It is about exercising the people’s right of revolution and change of government—especially where the majority is part of the problem.
Similar to America’s history, where the States seceded from their government under the Articles of Confederation, they formed a new constitution in substantial similarity to their previous federal form of government. Likewise, when the southern states seceded from the federal government in the 1860s, they formed a new federal constitution that virtually mirrored the constitution of the United States of America. They were not trying to get rid of the constitution. They were trying to enforce sound, free principles and believed they could do that best by separation.
While arguments may be made as to the practicalities of secession, I favor the people’s right to revolution. (See, President Woodrow Wilson’s comments on the same subject.) I also prefer the most peaceful and humane method of revolution possible. Undeniably, secession is one of the most peaceful methods available. It is the minority’s tool to exercise their right. It always has been and will always be.
On that note, I end the discussion by quoting Reverend Chris Wyvill’s Secession From Parliament Vindicated as he describes secession upon the heels of the American Declaration of Independence. Wyvill says,
“But that the exercise of this discretionary power of Secession may be justifiable, there must be an emergency of great Public Danger; there must be a moral certainty, from the continued obstinacy of Parliament in adhering to measures of a pernicious tendency, that farther Debate will be altogether useless; that a timely change of counsels is not to be hoped from the unassisted wisdom of Parliament; and consequently, that a National Deliverance can only be effected by a just and constitutional interference of the People.
“Under these circumstances there is an actual necessity for their interposition; which will, and which alone can justify an Appeal to the People by Secession. When the necessary means of safety have not been spontaneously, and in time applied by Parliament, what the reason and eloquence of the minority have in vain recommended, may be obtained by the decisive authority of Public Opinion. On a timely declaration of that opinion may hang the last hope of salvation; and Secession, with a view to procure it, may thus become a necessary Act of Duty.” (Rev. Chris Wyvill, The Secession From Parliament Vindicated, 2nd Ed. (York, L.Lund, 1799), 11-12 (emphasis added; Old English spelling converted to modern English for reader convenience).
October 21, 2011
Religion and Church
What is the role of religion and the church in government? This is undoubtedly a sensitive subject for many. In America, the “separation of church and state” idea, along with the 501(c)(3) corporate status has distorted most of the philosophy which shaped the formation of the United States. And regardless of whether Christians realize or admit it, Georg Hegel’s philosophy plays a much more significant role in how churches operate today than Enlightenment philosophy and even Scriptures.
The philosophical origin of America’s idea about religion in government was not based upon religious institutions (i.e. Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.), but rather upon the notions of the Creator God and His natural laws. The Enlightenment philosophers advocated the importance of knowing and understanding God and His creation to produce liberty and its blessings.
To the Enlightenment, principles of liberty existed “before the name of Christ was known in the world” because it has “its root in common sense” (Algernon Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government, Ch. 2, Sec. 2). In other words, Christianity itself was not the foundation of liberty. Liberty exists because God and his creation exist. However, these philosophers recognized the importance that Christianity played in advancing the principles of freedom.
Despite the claim that moderns may make about the individual’s worth in society and government, even Georg Hegel acknowledged that Christianity played a substantial role in expanding individual liberty. Hegel says, “[i]t is about a millennium and a half since the freedom of personality began through the spread of Christianity to blossom and gain recognition as a universal principle” (Georg Hegel, The Philosophy of Right, Introduction, Sec. 62). Ironically, many moderns reject the part Christianity and Scriptures play in preserving liberty.
It would hardly take a scholar to observe that most, if not all, of the Enlightenment philosophers used Scriptures as a foundation and supplement of liberty’s exposition, in addition to reason and natural law. Algernon Sidney (one of Thomas Jefferson’s top 2 favorite philosophers) describes our knowledge “between good and evil” this way: “1. When God by his word reveals it to us. 2. When by his deeds he declareth it…3. By the light of reason, which is good, in as much as it is from God” (Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government, Ch. 1, Sec. 13).
Enlightenment philosophers showed that religion and the church were to play a significant role in maintaining a free society by influence and education. As God created laws for all of mankind to obey, God also gave man reason to understand and incorporate those laws societally and personally. Emer de Vattel describes religion’s influence this way, “God could only give laws suitable to the nature of things, and particularly to the essence and nature of man, whom he instructs to observe them…But how will they know these most advantageous laws?...We attain knowledge of these laws through reason” (Emer de Vattel, Essay on the Foundation of Natural Law and on the First Principle of the Obligation Men Find Themselves Under to Observe Laws, Sec. VIII-IX). Each individual has and must use reason to understand and apply these principles. Moreover, they have a duty to enforce these laws in government.
Enlightenment philosophers saw a need “to preserve a People at Peace with one another,” and “to [this] End it is convenient to take Care, that the Christian Religion, after the most pure and most uncorrupt Way, be profess’d by the Subjects of every Realm or Community; and that no Tenets be publickly taught in the Schools, that are contrariant to the Designs of Government” (Samuel Pufendorf, The Whole Duty of Man, Ch. 11, Sec. IV). It is no wonder that the Bible was once used as a primary text book in America’s public schools.
A society based upon ideas contrary to this would be destructive to a free society and would encourage tyranny. So, we see how the Enlightenment philosophers advocated the following regarding the importance of religion and the church in relation to government:
“It may be worth the while…to consider the Benefits which through Religion accrue to Mankind; from whence it may appear, that It is in truth the utmost and firmest Bond of Human Society. For in the Natural Liberty, if you take away the Fear of a Divine Power, any Man who shall have confidence in his own Strength, may do what Violences he pleases to others who are weaker than himself, and will account Honest, Modesty, and Truth but as empty Words…[L]ay aside Religion, and the Internal Bonds of Communities will be always slack and feeble…From all which it appears, how much it is the Interest of Mankind, that all Means be used to check the spreading of Atheism in the World; and with what vain Follythose Men are possess’d, who think to get Reputation of being notable Politicians, by being seemingly inclin’d to Looseness and Irreligion” (Pufendorf The Whole Duty of Man, Ch. IV, Sec. VII).
The priority placed on God, religion, and church relative to liberty was not a matter of state-controlled compulsion. It was the role of the church and individuals in society to encourage the teaching and training of liberty’s principles based upon Scripture and natural law so the people could check government. Thus, we see the freedom of religion expressly protected in our original state and federal constitutions.
In short, religion and the church were to serve as the formidable means of checking government’s actions. The same cannot be said, however, of Hegel’s philosophy.
Recall that Hegel acknowledged Christianity as the catalyst for individual liberty and worth in politics. Recall also that Hegel had a certain disdain for the sovereignty of the people, democracy, and republicanism (see parts 1-6). Consequently, Hegel’s view of Christianity was less than favorable as it related to political theories (e.g. Enlightenment philosophy). So, what was Hegel’s view of religion and the Church relative to the State?
First, Hegel believed the State to be supreme over all, and those in control of government possessed all supremacy. Second, Hegel believed “true” religion would never contradict the power of the State. Third, Hegel viewed churches as state Corporations, not institutions of God. Since we have sufficiently covered the first proposition in parts 1-6, let us consider the second and third.
Hegel Proposition 2. To Hegel, a “genuine” church is one that does not oppose the “idea of the State”. Hegel says, “if religion be religion of a genuine kind, it does not run counter to the state in a negative or polemical way” (Hegel, The Philosophy of Right, Part 3). This concept is similar to Hegel’s description of the different branches of government not checking each other in reality but acting as one unit (see part 4). While Hegel acknowledges one’s subjective conscience towards a higher being, he rejects that the individual or church may use this conscience in determining the rightfulness of the State’s action.
Hegel feels that if religion impedes the State and this is deemed right, then it would “produce the demand…that the state should not only allow the church to do as it likes with complete freedom, but that it should pay unconditional respect to those church’s doctrines…because their determination is supposed to be the task of the church” (Ibid).
Hegel must, by all means, deduce that the following political theory is contrary to the “idea of the State”: “the state’s specific function consists in protecting and securing everyone’s life, property, and caprice, in so far as these do not encroach upon the life, property, and caprice of others” (Ibid). Compare this, of course, to the colonies’ Declaration of Independence—government is to secure the ends of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It matters not to Hegel that “the leaders of congregations…feel impelled to withdraw from the state…or whether they remain within the state except in their capacity as ecclesiastics” (Ibid). Allowing ecclesiastics to separate from the authority of the State or proposing that the State’s end is only to protect life, liberty, and property contradicts the “idea of the State” and removes “absolute truth…beyond the reach of the state” (Ibid).
As a logical result of Hegel’s doctrine, he determines, “when the church begins to teach doctrines [that] touch on objective principles,…then their expression eo ipso brings the church into the domain of the state” (Ibid). Put shortly, the church’s realm is only subjective, based in opinion; and the State is objective, based in actuality. The State is the essence of what truth is (see part 2).
Hegel Proposition 3. So, how does Hegel propose that the State control the church? Answer: by uniting them. In contrast to the Enlightenment philosophy, which proposes that uncorrupted religion be taught and advanced by churches and individuals without State control (see, USC, Amend. I), Hegel finds that the “state and church are essentially one in truth of principle and disposition” (Ibid).
Be careful here in your understanding: Hegel stated that while the church and State were unified, their operations would be distinct “between their forms of consciousness” (Ibid). Since their forms are different, one may not realize the essence of their unity. Hegel proposed that this separation-yet-unity would be accomplished through the State vehicle of Corporation status.
Hegel says, “[w]hen individuals, holding religious views in common, form themselves into a church, a Corporation, they fall under the general control and oversight of the higher state officials” (Ibid, emphasis added). A corporation is a fictitious entity created by individuals under the laws of the State. Hegel does not see a corporation as a common law notion at all. Rather, he sees it as a State-created, controlled entity.
Consequently, all corporations’ actions must comport to State supremacy regardless of natural or common law. To Hegel, a church is a Corporation—but not just any corporation: a corporation uniquely positioned to advance the power of the State.
The Church as Corporation
While most churches in America do not want to admit this, they have played directly into the hands of Hegel’s view of the State as Supreme and the church as a Corporation. Through the incorporation of hundreds of thousands of 501(c)(3) entities called “churches” or “non-profit” organizations, what God meant to be independent proclaimers and activators of Truth are now spokesmen for Statism, the preaching of “salvation” notwithstanding.
Hegel cares not that churches preach faith—so long as they do not preach politics. As Hegel puts it, as soon as churches preach about the objective truth relative to the State (i.e. purpose and limits of the State), they have overstepped their authority in usurpation of the State.
Did Hegel suggest that people not go to church or be atheists? Just the opposite: Hegel proposed that the State require citizens to attend church—State-approved church of course. But why?
Answer: the indoctrination of Statism. Adolf Hitler used this tactic quite well (see, Erwin Lutzer, Hitler’s Cross). Hegel says, “implanting a sense of unity [of church and state] in the depths of men’s minds, the state should even require all its citizens to belong to a church” (Ibid).
In other words, citizens should belong to state-approved/corporate churches so the pastors can “implant” in them the proper role of the State and church. The churches thus serve as the State’s ambassadors in society. As such, these churches would use Scripture to justify unconditional submission to the State, including a distorted view of Romans chapter 13 (See my and Chuck Baldwin’s new book release of Romans 13: The True Meaning of Submission).
Hardly anyone today, even open Hegel followers, would follow Hegel’s advice and suggest that the State require citizens to attend a state-approved church. What they cannot accomplish through the front door, however, they do through the back door. In so doing, Hegel and his followers have accomplished his vision for the church.
The method of executing Hegel’s goal is doing what the federal and state governments have done concerning 501(c)(3), non-profit tax exempt status: if you attend an incorporated, state-approved church, you can receive State benefits. Is this benign “faith-based” government programming? Even if purportedly benign, what is the effect?
Consider that upon this State-created carrot, generations of American Christians have invested trillions of dollars in infrastructure, properties, programs, payroll, local and national outreach, advertisements, equipment, TV and radio programs, retirement and insurance plans, housings, vehicles, educational institutions, daycare facilities, etc.—all in the name of their tax-benefitted corporation. Corporate Christianity is perhaps one of the biggest money-spending ventures in America.
Do you really think the presidents, secretaries, and board members of those organizations will risk losing or diminishing those monies, members, assets, investments, and titles by countering the main-stream flow of, say, a choice political party, favored candidate, etc.—or the IRS tax collectors and enforcers with their guns, badges, and attorneys? Couple that with the impact our failing economy has had on these corporations. The answer is obviously, no.
Hegel’s “Genuine” Church in America
Hegel’s concept of “genuine” religion thus rings true in America: it will not counter the State. Consequently, Christian pastors and leaders refuse to “get political” because, as they try to convince us, “Romans 13 commands us to submit to government no matter what”. They use both their corporate status and Scriptures to justify their and our passivity, indifference, or greed.
The cunning use of corporate status has effectively caused preachers and religious leaders to silence their voices; close their minds; stifle their denunciation of injustice; and incentivize their compliance with those in power of politics and party agenda. All the while, our country slips further from its Enlightenment roots into the abyss of Hegelianism.
If Georg Hegel were alive today, he would be proud to see his work being fulfilled in America.