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run for unity essay

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10 but while man's very perception of the material world is shaped by his historical consciousness of it, the material world can clearly affect in return the viability of a particular state of consciousness. In particular, the spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere. I want to avoid the materialist determinism that says that liberal economics inevitably produces liberal politics, because i believe that both economics and politics presuppose an autonomous prior state of consciousness that makes them possible. But that state of consciousness that permits the growth of liberalism seems to stabilize in the way one would expect at the end of history if it is underwritten by the abundance of a modern free market economy. We might summarize the content of the universal homogenous state as liberal democracy in the political sphere combined with easy access to vcrs and stereos in the economic. Iii have we in fact reached the end of history? Are there, in other words, any fundamental "contradictions" in human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure?

The End of History?

But the the deep defects of socialist economies were evident thirty or forty years ago to anyone who chose to look. Why was it that these countries moved away from central planning only in the 1980s' The answer must be found in the consciousness of the elites and leaders ruling them, who decided to opt for the "Protestant" life of wealth and risk over the "Catholic". 8 That change was in no way made inevitable by the material conditions in which either country found itself on the eve of the reform, but instead came about as the result of the victory of one idea over another. 9 for Kojève, as for all good Hegelians, understanding the underlying processes of history requires understanding developments in the realm of consciousness or ideas, since consciousness will ultimately remake the material world in its own image. To say that history ended in 1806 meant that mankind's ideological evolution ended in the ideals of the French or American revolutions: while business particular regimes in the real world might not implement these ideals fully, their theoretical truth is absolute and could not be improved. Hence it did not matter to kojève that the consciousness of the postwar generation of Europeans had not been universalized throughout the world; if ideological development had in fact ended, the homogenous state would eventually become victorious throughout the material world. I have neither the space nor, frankly, the ability to defend in depth Hegel's radical idealist perspective. The issue is not whether Hegel's system was right, but whether his perspective might uncover the problematic nature of many materialist explanations we often take for granted. This is not to deny the role of material factors as such. To a literal-minded idealist, human society can be built around any arbitrary set of principles regardless of their relationship to the material world. And in fact men have proven themselves able to endure the most extreme material hardships in the name of ideas that exist in the realm of the spirit alone, be it the divinity of cows or the nature of the holy Trinity.

And indeed, a central theme of Weber's work was to prove that contrary to marx, the letter material mode of production, far from being the "base was itself a "superstructure" with roots in religion and culture, and that to understand the emergence of modern capitalism and. As we look around the contemporary world, the poverty of materialist theories of economic development is all too apparent. Wall Street journal school of deterministic materialism habitually points to the stunning economic success of Asia in the past few decades as evidence of the viability of free market economics, with the implication that all societies would see similar development were they simply to allow. Surely free markets and stable political systems are a necessary precondition to capitalist economic growth. But just as surely the cultural heritage of those far Eastern societies, the ethic of work and saving and family, a religious heritage that does not, like islam, place restrictions on certain forms of economic behavior, and other deeply ingrained moral qualities, are equally important. 7 And yet the intellectual weight of materialism is such that not a single respectable contemporary theory of economic development addresses consciousness and culture seriously as the matrix within which economic behavior is formed. Failure to understand that the roots of economic behavior lie in the realm of consciousness and culture leads to the common mistake of attributing material causes to phenomena that are essentially ideal in nature. For example, it is commonplace in the west to interpret the reform movements first in China and most recently in the soviet Union as the victory of the material over the ideal - that is, a recognition that ideological incentives could not replace material ones.

run for unity essay

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The materialist bias of modern thought is characteristic not only of people on the left who may be sympathetic to marxism, but of many passionate anti-marxists as well. Indeed, there is on the right what one might label the wall Street journal school of deterministic materialism that discounts the importance of ideology and culture and sees man as essentially a rational, profit-maximizing individual. It is precisely this kind of individual and his pursuit of material incentives that is posited as the basis for economic life as such in economic textbooks. 6, one small example will illustrate the problematic character of such materialist views. Max Weber note begins his famous book, the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, by noting the different economic performance of Protestant and Catholic communities throughout Europe and America, summed up in the proverb that Protestants eat well while catholics sleep well. Weber notes that according to any economic theory that posited man as a rational profit-maximizer, raising the piece-work rate should increase labor productivity. But in fact, in many traditional taxi peasant communities, raising the piece-work rate actually had the opposite effect of lowering labor productivity: at the higher rate, a peasant accustomed to earning two and one-half marks per day found he could earn the same amount by working. The choices of leisure over income, or of the militaristic life of the Spartan hoplite over the wealth of the Athenian trader, or even the ascetic life of the early capitalist entrepreneur over that of a traditional leisured aristocrat, cannot possibly be explained by the.

Hegel's idealism has fared poorly at the hands of later thinkers. Marx reversed the priority of the real and the ideal completely, relegating the entire realm of consciousness - religion, art, culture, philosophy itself - to a "superstructure" that was determined entirely by the prevailing material mode of production. Yet another unfortunate legacy of Marxism is our tendency to retreat into materialist or utilitarian explanations of political or historical phenomena, and our disinclination to believe in the autonomous power of ideas. A recent example of this is paul Kennedy's hugely successful. The rise and Fall of the Great Powers, which ascribes the decline of great powers to simple economic overextension. Obviously, this is true on some level: an empire whose economy is barely above the level of subsistence cannot bankrupt its treasury indefinitely. But whether a highly productive modern industrial society chooses to spend 3 or 7 percent of its gnp on defense rather than consumption is entirely a matter of that society's political priorities, which are in turn determined in the realm of consciousness.

Essay on the, great Depression - university Of Illinois

run for unity essay

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To comprehend how Kojève could have been so audacious as to assert that history has ended, we must first of all understand the meaning of Hegelian idealism. Ii, for hegel, the contradictions that drive report history exist first of all in the realm of human consciousness,. On the level of ideas 4 - not the trivial election year proposals of American politicians, but ideas in the sense of large unifying world views that might best be understood under the rubric of ideology. Ideology in this thesis sense is not restricted to the secular and explicit political doctrines we usually associate with the term, but can include religion, culture, and the complex of moral values underlying any society as well. Hegel's view of the relationship between the ideal and the real or material worlds was an extremely complicated one, beginning with the fact that for him the distinction between the two was only apparent.

5, he did not believe that the real world conformed or could be made to conform to ideological preconceptions of philosophy professors in any simpleminded way, or that the "material" world could not impinge on the ideal. Indeed, hegel the professor was temporarily thrown out of work as a result of a very material event, the battle of Jena. But while hegel's writing and thinking could be stopped by a bullet from the material world, the hand on the trigger of the gun was motivated in turn by the ideas of liberty and equality that had driven the French revolution. For Hegel, all human behavior in the material world, and hence all human history, is rooted in a prior state of consciousness - an idea similar to the one expressed by john maynard keynes when he said that the views of men of affairs were. This consciousness may not be explicit and self-aware, as are modern political doctrines, but may rather take the form of religion or simple cultural or moral habits. And yet this realm of consciousness in the long run necessarily becomes manifest in the material world, indeed creates the material world in its own image. Consciousness is cause and not effect, and can develop autonomously from the material world; hence the real subtext underlying the apparent jumble of current events is the history of ideology.

2, the battle of Jena marked the end of history because it was at that point that the vanguard of humanity (a term quite familiar to marxists) actualized the principles of the French revolution. While there was considerable work to be done after 1806 - abolishing slavery and the slave trade, extending the franchise to workers, women, blacks, and other racial minorities, etc. the basic principles of the liberal democratic state could not be improved upon. The two world wars in this century and their attendant revolutions and upheavals simply had the effect of extending those principles spatially, such that the various provinces of human civilization were brought up to the level of its most advanced outposts, and of forcing those. The state that emerges at the end of history is liberal insofar as it recognizes and protects through a system of law man's universal right to freedom, and democratic insofar as it exists only with the consent of the governed. For Kojève, this so-called "universal homogenous state" found real-life embodiment in the countries of postwar Western Europe - precisely those flabby, prosperous, self-satisfied, inward-looking, weak-willed states whose grandest project was nothing more heroic than the creation of the common Market.


3, but this was only to be expected. For human history and the conflict that characterized it was based on the existence of "contradictions primitive man's quest for mutual recognition, the dialectic of the master and slave, the transformation and mastery of nature, the struggle for the universal recognition of rights, and the. But in the universal homogenous state, all prior contradictions are resolved and all human needs are satisfied. There is no struggle or conflict over "large" issues, and consequently no need for generals or statesmen; what remains is primarily economic activity. And indeed, kojève's life was consistent with his teaching. Believing that there was no more work for philosophers as well, since hegel (correctly understood) had already achieved absolute knowledge, kojève left teaching after the war and spent the remainder of his life working as a bureaucrat in the european Economic Community, until his death. To his contemporaries at mid-century, kojève's proclamation of the end of history must have seemed like the typical eccentric solipsism of a french intellectual, coming as it did on the heels of World War ii and at the very height of the cold War.

Truth in Religion : The Plurality of Religions and the

In France, thesis however, there has been an effort to save hegel from his Marxist interpreters and to resurrect him as the philosopher who most correctly speaks to our time. Among those modern French interpreters of Hegel, the greatest was certainly Alexandre kojève, a brilliant Russian émigré who taught a highly influential series of seminars in Paris in the 1930s at the. Ecole Practique des hautes Etudes. 1, while largely unknown in the United States, kojève had a major impact on the intellectual life of the continent. Among his students ranged such future luminaries as jean-paul Sartre on the left and raymond Aron on the right; postwar existentialism borrowed many of its basic categories from Hegel via kojève. Kojève sought to resurrect the hegel of the. Phenomenology of Mind, the hegel who proclaimed history to be at an end in 1806. For as early as this Hegel saw in Napoleon's defeat of the Prussian monarchy at the battle of Jena the victory of the ideals of the French revolution, and the imminent universalization of the state incorporating the principles of liberty and equality. Kojève, far from rejecting Hegel in light of the turbulent events of the next century and a half, insisted that the latter had been essentially correct.

run for unity essay

believed that the direction of historical development was a purposeful one determined by the interplay of material forces, and would come to an end only with the achievement of a communist utopia that would finally resolve all. But the concept of history as a dialectical process with a beginning, a middle, and an end was borrowed by marx from his great German predecessor, georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. For better or worse, much of Hegel's historicism has become part of our contemporary intellectual baggage. The notion that mankind has progressed through a series of primitive stages of consciousness on his path to the present, and that these stages corresponded to concrete forms of social organization, such as tribal, slave-owning, theocratic, and finally democratic-egalitarian societies, has become inseparable from the. Hegel was the first philosopher to speak the language of modern social science, insofar as man for him was the product of his concrete historical and social environment and not, as earlier natural right theorists would have it, a collection of more or less fixed. The mastery and transformation of man's natural environment through the application of science and technology was originally not a marxist concept, but a hegelian one. Unlike later historicists whose historical relativism degenerated into relativism tout court, however, hegel believed that history culminated in an absolute moment - a moment in which a final, rational form of society and state became victorious. It is Hegel's misfortune to be known now primarily as Marx's precursor; and it is our misfortune that few of us are familiar with Hegel's work from direct study, but only as it has been filtered through the distorting lens of Marxism.

In the past decade, there have been unmistakable changes in the intellectual climate of the world's two largest communist countries, and the beginnings of significant reform movements in both. But this phenomenon extends beyond high politics and it can be seen also in the ineluctable spread of consumerist Western culture in such diverse contexts as the peasants' markets and color television sets now omnipresent throughout China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened. What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill management the pages. Foreign Affair's yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete. The real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.

Pat Metheny - the

In watching the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in taxi world history. The past year has seen a flood of articles commemorating the end of the cold War, and the fact that "peace" seems to be breaking out in many regions of the world. Most of these analyses lack any larger conceptual framework for distinguishing between what is essential and what is contingent or accidental in world history, and are predictably superficial. Gorbachev were ousted from the Kremlin or a new ayatollah proclaimed the millennium from a desolate middle eastern capital, these same commentators would scramble to announce the rebirth of a new era of conflict. And yet, all of these people sense dimly that there is some larger process at work, a process that gives coherence and order to the daily headlines. The twentieth century saw the developed world descend into a paroxysm of ideological violence, as liberalism contended first with the remnants of absolutism, then bolshevism and fascism, and finally an updated Marxism that threatened to lead to the ultimate apocalypse of nuclear war. But the century that began full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy seems at its close to be returning full circle to where it started: not to an "end of ideology" or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as earlier predicted. The triumph of the west, of the western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to western liberalism.


Run for unity essay
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