The Logical Influence of Hegel on Marx. Rebecca Cooper 1925
According to Hegel, the realms of law, morality, and the state constitute various stages or moments in the complete realization of Freedom. In fact, the complete realization of Freedom can be reached only in the state, because the state, as the culmination of social ethics, is the union of objective and subjective Freedom. Since, in this sphere of reality, objective and subjective refer to the two opposing and abstract stages in the development of right, namely, abstract right and morality, the state may be viewed as their real synthesis.
The discussion of the first phase or member in the triad of right, abstract right, includes analysis of the role and significance of property. A man must, first of all, according to Hegel, be a person among other persons – in other words, he must have certain rights, maintained, of course, by law. How-ever, it is essential also, that every person become aware of himself as a personality by reflection in external reality. This state is attained through the power to command, the right to use, and to dispose of property. “But, when I as a free will am in possession of something, I get a tangible existence, and in this way first become an actual will. This is the true and legal nature of property, and constitutes its distinctive character.”
Hegel’s attitude toward the collective as opposed to the private ownership of property follows naturally from his philosophical interpretation of the nature of property. However, he makes sufficiently explicit statement of his be-lief in private and his opposition_ to equality in the ownership of property. “The elements of nature cannot become private property. – In the agrarian laws of Rome may be found a conflict between collective and private ownership of the land. Private ownership is the more reasonable, and, even at the expense of other rights, must win the victory. – Property bound up with the family trust contains an element which is opposed to the right of personality and private ownership (...) The idea of Plato’s Republic does a wrong to the person, in regarding him as unable to hold property.” Explaining that the above does not imply equality of ownership, Hegel says : “Since wealth depends upon application, equality in the distribution of goods would, if introduced, soon be disturbed again. What does not permit of being carried out ought not to be attempted. Men are equal, it is true, but only as persons, that is, only with reference to the source of possession. Accordingly, every one must have property. This is the only kind of equality which it is possible to consider. Beyond this is found the region of particular persons, and the question for the first time comes up, how much do I possess? Here the assertion that the property of every man ought in justice to be equal to that of every other is false, since justice demands merely that every one should have property. Indeed, amongst persons variously endowed, inequality must occur, and equality would be wrong.”
Hegel’s attitude towards slavery as a form of property is interesting. Slavery itself stands condemned; nor can it be justified on the grounds of the separation of soul and body. “If we hold fast to the side that man is absolutely free, we condemn slavery.” Nevertheless, Hegel holds, it depends in the last analysis on the slave himself. Slavery is a condition of the world where a wrong is still a right (to be remedied, apparently by some sort of rebellious action on the part of the slave). That which the Marxists call “wage-slavery” is not included within the above condemnation of slavery as such. Hegel makes of it a neat exception : “The use of single products of my particular physical endowments or mental capacities I may hand over to others for a limited time, since, when a time limit is recognized, these products may be said to have an external relation to my genuine and total being. If I were to dispose of my whole time made concrete in work, and all of my activity, I would be giving up the essence of my productions. My whole activity and reality, in short, my personality, would be the property of another.”
Hegel’s interpretation of various legal matters, such as contracts, crime, fraud, and the like, are interesting when compared with Marx’s. Contracts, according to Hegel, express the first beginning of a common will, but are still altogether arbitrary. They permit of disagreements such that one or both par-ties may be either: (1) wrong, in which case, compensation is in order, or (2) fraudulent, whereupon the only compensation is punishment, or, again, (3) criminal, and then some form of legal punishment must be invoked because of the following high-flown nature with which crime is endowed, “In crime, which is wrong in its proper sense, neither right in general nor personal right is respected. Both the objective and the subjective aspects of right are set at defiance by crime.” Thus, Hegel maintains that violence done to my property, is injury also to my will.
This attention to the legal aspect of punishment is not accidental. The purpose of punishment is the restoration of harmony, the cancelling by retribution of the wrong which has been committed. This sort of adjustment can be brought about only by the law, since the revenge of a private person is but an-other wrong, requiring further adjustment. Punishment, in fact, is but the necessary complement of crime or wrong-doing, its other side, which is required to bring home to the criminal the fact of his having committed an offense against himself as well as against the aggrieved party. This sort of realization brought about by the law as will, constitutes a transition to the next phase, or morality. “Retribution is the inner connection and identity of two things which in outward appearance and external reality are different. Requital seems to be something foreign, and not of right to belong to the criminal. But punishment is only the manifestation of crime, the other half which is necessarily presupposed in the first. Retribution looks like something immoral, like revenge, and may therefore seem to be something personal. But it is the conception not the personal element, which carries out retribution.”
“Morality is itself but an isolated stage, as abstract as the first stage, of abstract right, but a necessary complement to it. Together, they constitute the two opposing terms of the triad of which the ethical sphere is the synthesis. Morality differs from right in the degree of subjectivity of the individual. To the purely objective rules of conduct, and especially of prohibition, must be added, for the more complete realization of Freedom, subjective conviction, or conscience. In the sphere of Morality, which may also be termed the sphere of Subjective Right, or of the ‘Right of the Subjective Will,’ the Person becomes a Subject. His personality, his will, no longer exists merely for others, in a pure ‘state of nature,’ or in the form of an aggregate of purely objective acts and relations; it exists for the person himself, in the inward forum of consciousness, of reflective thought, of conscience. In this more favorable soil is now planted his freedom, which thus first demonstrates itself to be more fundamentally a thing of the mind, or of the inward spirit, than of external possessions and real relations.”
Only in the third, and last stage, that of ethical observance, the region of established ethical principles, is the will identical with the conception of it and has only this conception for its content. For the will must be aware of and intend the universality of its acts. “In brief,” as Morris accurately puts it, “the ideal content of the conception of Freedom is unfolded and actualized in a present, actual world of organized human and spiritual relations, in which freedom is objectively demonstrated to be, not the attribute of ‘merely conscious’ individuals (brutes are such individuals), but of beings, such as men, who are capable of finding in a consciousness of the universal the true sub-stance of their own proper self-consciousness and the true motive of their own, that is, of all genuinely human-activity.”
“The ethical system,” says Hegel, “is the idea of Freedom. The ethical is thus the conception of Freedom developed into a present world, and also into the nature of self-consciousness.” Freedom at this stage is thus not abstract, but true Freedom in the concrete – Freedom which is not opposed to, but united with necessity. As such a union of Freedom and necessity, the ethical system, fully developed in the state, has at last attained rationality. “The ethical material is rational, because it is the system of these phases of the idea. Thus Freedom, the Absolute Will, the objective, and the circle of necessity, are all one principle, whose elements are the ethical forces. They rule the lives of individuals, and in individuals as their models have their shape, manifestation, and actuality.”
The unity of this stage is expressed in three levels, (1) the family, (2) the civic community, (3) the state. “The family,” said Hegel, “is the direct substantive reality of the Spirit. The unity of the family is one of feeling, the feeling of love. Love is in general the consciousness of the unity of myself with another.” It is necessary also that there be a property basis : “It is not enough that the family has property, but, as a universal and lasting person, it needs a permanent and sure possession, or means.”
The family, which is the first and universal member of the triad, is negated by the civic community, which is the opposing difference. “The civic community is the realm of difference, intermediate between the family and the state, although its construction followed in point of time the construction of the state. It, as the difference, must presuppose the state.” The reason for the priority of the civic community is the necessity that man as a citizen must first of all supply his own wants, thus developing the science of political economy. However, it is apparent to the social philosopher that in the process of satisfying these elementary wants of man, there must be a division of labor, on the basis of which society is divided into classes. Next to the family division, there is a division on an economic basis. Thus, in civil society, there is the class of landowners and the class of artisans. With the development of industry and the industrial class, the form of the products of nature has been altered. In the production of industrial goods, the cooperation of three different industrial groups is necessary. For the satisfaction of individual wants there is the manual laborer, or the artisan as such – the man who, by the effort of his own hands satisfies directly the needs of some definite person. In manufacture, on the other hand, the particular needs of many people arc satisfied through the more abstract collection of goods produced because of universal demand. Lastly, there is the necessary sphere of exchange or commerce through money, which is the general medium, representing the abstract value of all the merchandise.
Then, there is the universal class the duty of which is the protection of the universal interests of society. This class must therefore be relieved of the necessity of providing for itself – its support rests rightly on the rest of society which receives benefit from it. The office of judge, for example, comes under this class of public servants. Though there are laws to regulate conduct, they cannot be sufficiently detailed for the equitable settlement of all cases; in so far as they fall short of complete rectitude, there are the freer decisions of the courts as a remedy. The police, too, must give universal service and protection, especially to property. Not only the owners of corporations are to be protected, but the corporations themselves are to be subject to police regulation in the interest of the consumer. Not laissez faire, then, but +he regulation of industry is favored by Hegel. In connection with corporations, which were apparently regarded by Hegel as inevitable, the question of poverty among the masses of the people which comes as a result of the amassing of great wealth, is dealt with. Neither poor-houses nor publicly provided employment can relieve the distress of the poor; colonization is the only adequate remedy.
The state, which is logically the supreme social institution, is both rational and necessary, and there is no option about belonging to it. Even though the purely subjective will of the individual fails to acknowledge the state’s supremacy, the rational, or true will must recognize the cogency of the law which is its own law. The laws of the state are binding because they are self-imposed by the rational will. Thus the union of Freedom and necessity is brought about. In this manner, Hegel gives his view of the essence of the state : “Rationality, viewed abstractedly, consists in the thorough study of universality and individuality. Taken concretely, and from the standpoint of the content, it is the unity of the objective freedom with subjective freedom of the general substantive will seeking particular ends. From the standpoint of the form it consists in action determined by thought-out or universal laws and principles. This idea is the absolutely eternal and necessary being of spirit. The idea of the state is not concerned with the historical origin of either the state in general or of any particular state with its special rights and characters.”
With regard to the “internal constitution,” Hegel says “The constitution is rational in so far as the active working divisions of the state are in accord with the nature of the conception. This occurs when every one of its functions is in itself the totality, in the sense that it effectually contains the other elements. These elements, too, though expressing the distinctions of the conception, remain strictly within its ideality, and constitute one individual whole (...) The principle of the separation of functions contains the essential element of difference, that is to say, of real rationality. The functions of the state, the executive and the legislative, as they are called, may be made independent of each other. The state is, then, forthwith overthrown.”
Following the above metaphysical interpretation of the so-called “separation of powers,” Hegel then gives his own account of the manner in which the state should be divided:
“The political state is divided into three substantive branches:
“(a) The power to fix and establish the universal. This is legislation.
“(b) The power, which brings particular spheres and individual cases under the universal. This is the function of government.
“(c) The function of the prince, as the subjectivity with which rests the final decision. In this function the other two are brought into an individual unity. It is at one and the same time the culmination and the beginning of the whole. This is constitutional monarchy.”
Having in this manner introduced the constitutional monarchy, Hegel proceeds to imbue it with the usual complicated abstractions. In a note to the same section, he says : “The perfecting of the state into a constitutional monarchy is the work of the modern world, in which the substantive idea has attained the infinite form. This is the descent of the spirit of the world into itself, the free perfection by virtue of which the idea sets loose from itself its own elements, and nothing but its own elements, and makes them totalities; at the same time it holds them within the unity of the conception, in which is found their real rationality ...
“But these various forms of the state, which belong in this way to different wholes, are in constitutional monarchy lowered to their proper place as elements. In monarchy we have a single person, in its executive several, in legislation the multitude.”
At the head of the constitutional monarchy, there is, of course, the monarch, or the prince. “The function of the prince,” said Hegel, “contains within itself the three elements of the totality (1) the universality of the constitution and the laws; (2) the counsel, or reference of the particular to the universal; and (3) the final decision, or the self-determination, into which all else returns and from which it receives the beginning of its actuality.” It does not follow, however, from the imposing nature of the princely functions that the prince himself must be in any sense a superman. Allegiance, in fact, is not a matter of utility derived either from the nature of the office and its organization, nor from peculiar capabilities of the person who holds the office. “A monarch is not remarkable for bodily strength or intellect, and yet millions permit themselves to be ruled by him. To say that men permit themselves to be governed contrary to their interests, ends, and intentions, is preposterous, since men are not so stupid. It is their need and the inner power of the idea which urge them to this position in opposition to their seeming consciousness, and retain them in this relation.”
The discussion of the internal constitution is followed by an account of external sovereignty, under which topic belongs the subject of wars between nations. “Individuality, as exclusive and independent existence, appears as a relation to other self-dependent states. The independent existence of the actual spirit finds an embodiment in this general self-dependence, which is, therefore, the first freedom and highest dignity of a people.” Herein is to be found the ethical element in war. War is not to be regarded as an absolute evil. It is not merely external accident, having its accidental ground in the passions of powerful individuals or nations, in acts of injustice, or in anything which ought not to be. Accident befalls that which is by nature accidental, and this fate is a necessity.”
Finally, in conclusion to the above analysis of the state may be quoted this glowing tribute : “In the state, we must have nothing which is not an expression of rationality.
“Just so high as the Spirit stands above nature, the state stands above physical life. We must hence honor the state as the divine on earth, and later learn that if it is difficult to conceive of nature, it is infinitely harder to apprehend the state.”
Marxists regard the state as the special weapon of the propertied class against any opposition to their supremacy from the propertyless class under their domination. Since this is its sole function, the state can have come into existence only with the growth and conflict of classes. In addition to the state, as such, that is, the actual government offices, and closely connected with it, are certain other potent master-class weapons, namely, the laws of the state, along with the sentiment of the people in favor of anything tending to support the status quo, and opposed to anything which endangers it. Thus, the Marxists, too, in a way, considered the state a synthesis. It is a synthesis, or resolution of the opposition between the two antagonistic classes in society.
Orr the question of property, Marx is in agreement with Hegel as to its fundamental importance. However, Marx fails to invest it with the same metaphysical significance – it is not necessary to the realization of individuality, nor does it possess necessary ethical attributes. Private property, according to the Marxists, is fundamental to the state, because without it the state would have no reason for existence. It is important to all persons in society because the form of ownership of property is at the basis of all other social, political, religious, and intellectual institutions. Thus in the Marxist system, private property receives neither a metaphysical nor an ethical interpretation. The explanation of its origin is taken essentially from Louis Morgan’s Ancient Society, and is briefly as follows : Primitive communism broke down through the development of field agriculture, which made possible the recognition of each individual’s products, the marking off of land into private plots, to be cultivated by private persons, and likewise made possible ownership of human beings, which was then for the first time useful.
On the matter of the possibility of equal ownership of property, there is complete disagreement between Marx and Hegel. Not only does Marx deny that real equality (that is, equality of needs as opposed to equal division) is either wrong or impossible, but, he holds it is the essence of communism, the system which follows naturally after the collapse of capitalism.
Chattel slavery is not opposed by Marx on any such philosophical grounds as those of Hegel. It is recognized by the Marxists to be the natural form of class division of ancient society, and to be outgrown naturally with the passing of that society. It is outgrown, not because of the “realization of Spirit,” but because of the disappearance of the economic forms on which it rests. The sort of selling of one’s ability to labor for a stipulated period, which Hegel does not regard as slavery, and therefore condones, is considered by the Marxists the special form of slavery peculiar to capitalism. It is called by them, “wage-slavery,” and is thought to have most of the vicious features of the older forms, and some others as well.
Marx’s attitude towards contracts, at least between employee and employer, can be seen from the following rather sarcastic passage : “This sphere that we are deserting, within whose boundaries the sale and purchase of labor-power goes on, is in fact a very Eden of the innate rights of man. There alone rule Freedom, Equality, Property, and Bentham. Freedom, because both the buyer and seller of a commodity, say of labor-power, are constrained only by their own free will. They contract as free agents, and the agreement they come to, is but the form in which they give legal expression to their common will. Equality, because each enters into relations with the other, as with a simple owner of commodities, and they exchange equivalent for equivalent. Property, because each disposes only of what is his own. And Bentham, because each looks only to himself... “ Thus, while Hegel assumed the validity of the so-called free-contract, Marx expressly denies, and even ridicules it. The key to the Marxist view of the nature and significance of con-tracts is found, of course, in the theory of historical materialism, according to which the laws of contracts, like all laws and moral codes, are made in the interest of the dominant economic class. Contracts first became important with the advent of capitalism, because, whereas under former social systems, custom reigned, under this system, there is a formal recognition of the equality of people, whose dealings, therefore, become binding through a “free-contract.” This form is beneficial to the capitalist, and not to the laborer – it is the device by which the actual inequality between men is disguised.
It follows, therefore, that the Marxist attitude toward crime, fraud, wrong, and so forth, cannot be the same as Hegel’s, since Hegel’s analysis is based on an interpretation of contracts to which the Marxists do not sub-scribe. As will appear later, the Marxists hold a sort of relativity view of morality according to which each moral code (none is permanent) corresponds to a particular social system, and is one of the means by which the lower class is kept submissive, and the system is maintained. Consequently, in so far as wrong, fraud, and crime pertain to the breaking of contracts, as they do now very largely, they are offenses peculiar to capitalism, and will pass out of existence with the passing of that system. Revolutionists against this system can hardly join in the condemnation of acts against it, and in this regard, Marx was for the most part quite consistent. When in his histories, Marx speaks very harshly indeed of certain “forgers,” “thieves,” “embezzlers,” and’ “perjurers,” referring to Louis Bonaparte, and his associates of the “Society of December the 10th,” and to the politicians of the “Versailles Government,” he seems to me to have been speaking sarcastically, calling attention rather to their inconsistency in breaking their professed moral codes than to the intrinsic wrong of their acts. However, Marx’s perfect consistency on this point is perhaps questionable. It need only be mentioned, that even in the ideal society of the Marxists, crimes against the person, such as murder, will be, if not punished in the ordinary sense of the term, at least restrained in every way necessary.
Though nothing very definite is said by either Marx or Engels about the nature and function of punishment, it is fairly obvious from the trend of their ethical philosophy that they would not hold, as Hegel does, that punishment is the necessary complement, the other half of crime, that there is any meta-physical connection between them, or that the criminal is necessarily benefited by the punishment meted out to him. Only a purely utilitarian view of punishment can possibly fit in with the Marxist scheme of things. And in its truest sense, this can apply only in a society free from classes of exploited and exploiters. Under capitalism, punishment is but another tool of the capitalist class against the workers.
Regarding the interpretation of morals Engels gives a fair statement of the Marxist position: “But if we now see that the three classes of modern society, the feudal aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, and the proletariat have their distinctive ethical systems, we can only conclude the refrain that mankind consciously or unconsciously shapes its moral views in accordance with the material facts upon which in the last instance the class existence is based – upon the economic conditions under which production and exchange are carried on. Up to the present time all ethical theory is in the last instance a testimony to the existence of certain economic conditions prevailing in any community at any particular time. And in proportion as society developed class-antagonisms, morality became a class morality and either justified the interests and domination of the ruling class, or as soon as a subject class be-came strong enough, justified revolt against the domination of the ruling class in the interest of the subject class.”
In the same book, Engels points out that there is a certain truth in Hegel’s reconciliation of freedom and necessity. “Hegel was the first man to make a proper explanation of the relation of freedom and necessity. In his eyes freedom is the recognition of necessity. Necessity is blind only in so far as it is not understood, Freedom does not consist in an imaginary independence of natural laws but in the knowledge of these laws, and in the possibility thence derived of applying them intelligently to given ends.
“... Freedom, therefore, consists in mastery over ourselves and external nature; it is, therefore, necessarily a product of historical development.”
The Marxists disagree with Hegel’s idea that the family is a divine institution with definite characteristics which must not and cannot change. Family forms, they hold, are subject to the most complete changes, each of which is directly reflective of the prevailing economic situation. Engels describes the origin of the monogamous family as follows: “The transition to full private property was accomplished gradually and simultaneously with the transition from the pairing family to monogamy. The monogamous family began to be the economic unit of society.” From this it follows that the permanent existence of the family in its present quasi-monogamous state is very improbable.
The Marxists agree with Hegel that it is on the basis of the division of labor that classes in society were formed originally, but they do not agree that this is the foundation for the present class division. They grant that there are the two classes, the landowners, and those who do not own any land to speak of, but for them the class of landowners is under capitalism all but insignificant. The non-landowners are not divided by the Marxists in the way they are by Hegel, according to occupation and product, but according to the ownership or non-ownership of the means of production. Thus, to the Hegelian division of industrial classes into: the artisan, who satisfies the wants of individuals, the manufacturer (by which he seems to mean both the owner and the worker), who produces for the general public, and the merchant, who brings about the exchange of goods, is opposed that of the Marxists according to which society is divided in the main, or tends to be divided as capitalism develops, into the class of capitalists who own the means of production, and hire workers to operate them, and the workers who own only their capacity to labor. There are also sub-divisions of these two main classes, recognized by the Marxists, which are often of considerable importance, for their interests may diverge and bring them into sharp conflict with each other. These important sub-divisions of the capitalist class are : the industrial capitalists (factory, railroad, and mine owners, and to a lesser extent capitalist farmers), merchants, and financiers (bankers).
The proletariat may also be divided on the basis of skill. The skilled workers may be said to include the class of professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, and even state officials, police and soldiers.
In addition to these classes, characteristic of capitalism, there are others, remnants of previous systems. For example, there is the previously mentioned class of landowners, who do not manage their land as capitalistic enterprises, but rent it out to tenants. Then, too, there is the group of handicrafts-men, workers who own their own tools, buy and sell their own products. The corner grocer who does not hire workers, nor work himself for wages, belongs also to this group of disappearing classes, as does also the land-owning peasant. In addition may be mentioned certain miscellaneous types: the professional beggars and criminals, the comparatively few remaining titled nobility, Hegel’s “princes” and, perhaps, the priests.
The judges and police, who are endowed by Hegel with such exalted roles, are, of course, in the Marxist scheme, but parts of the machinery of the capitalist state, which is one of the most important of the capitalistic weapons against the workers. Regarding the doctrine of laissez faire brought up in this connection by Hegel, Marx can hardly be said to take a partisan view, inasmuch as it applies only under capitalism, to which system he is unqualifiedly opposed. The same thing may be said of his attitude toward Hegel’s solution of the problem of poverty, namely, colonization. To the Marxists, anything short of some sort of socialized scheme is but an ineffective palliative.
With Hegel’s rather inconsistent statement that the origin of the state depends on the appearance of class divisions in society based on the division of labor, and that it therefore came into existence coincidently with the growth of agriculture, the Marxists are more than willing to agree. However, they reject Hegel’s metaphysical interpretation of these, for them, purely empirical facts of the world of experience. These facts are not true because logically necessary, as Hegel thinks; the Marxists hold them to be “logically” necessary because they have been found to be true.
The state according to Hegel is both “rational and necessary.” For the Marxists, it is not only not in any sense “rational” and binding because self-imposed upon all those within its boundaries, as Hegel thinks, but on the contrary, it is for the non-ruling class, which constitutes the great majority, a thing very much opposed to their interests, and the chief instrument by which they are kept in bondage. It is manifestly “necessary” in the sense (also used by Hegel), that its appearance was inevitable in the course of social development. In this sense, its disappearance is also “necessary.” Engels very neatly contrasts his own view of the state with the metaphysical view of Hegel: “The state, then, is by no means a power forced on society from outside; neither is it the ‘realization of the ethical idea’, the ‘image and the realization of reason’, as Hegel maintained. It is simply a product ‘of society at a certain stage of evolution. It is the confession that this society has become hopelessly divided against itself, has entangled itself in irreconcilable contradictions which it is powerless to banish. In order that these contradictions, these classes with conflicting economic interests, may not annihilate themselves and society in a useless struggle, a power becomes necessary that stands apparently above society and has the function of keeping down the conflicts and maintaining ‘order.’ And this power, the outgrowth of society, assuming supremacy over it and becoming more and more divorced from it, is the state.” And, again, even more clearly, “The state is the result of the desire to keep down class conflicts, but having arisen amid these conflicts, it is as a rule the state of the most powerful economic class that by force of its economic supremacy becomes also the ruling political class and thus acquires new means of subduing and exploiting the oppressed masses. The antique state was, therefore, the state of the slave owners for the purpose of holding the slaves in check. The feudal state was the organ of the nobility for the oppression of the serfs and dependent farmers. The modern representative state is the tool of the capitalist exploiters of wage-labor.”
That the Marxists do not consider the state in any form an ideal or permanent institution (and are therefore wrongly referred to as State Socialists) is proved by the following quotation from Engels: “The state, then, did not exist from all eternity. There have been societies without it, that had no idea of any state or public power. At a certain stage of economic development, which was of necessity accompanied by a division of society into classes, the state became the inevitable result of this division. We are now rapidly approaching a stage of evolution in production, in which the existence of classes has not only ceased to be a necessity, but becomes a positive fetter on production. Hence these classes must fall as inevitably as they once arose. The state must irrevocably fall with them. The society that is to reorganize production on the basis of a free and equal association of the producers, will transfer the machinery of state where it will then belong : into the Museum of Antiques, by the side of the spinning wheel and the bronze ax.” Then, in another work, Engels says, “The proletariat seizes political power and turns the means of production into State property.
“But in doing this, it abolishes also the State as State. Society thus far, based upon class antagonism, had need of the State. That is, of an organization of the particular class which was pro tempore the exploiting class, an organization for the purpose of preventing any interference from without with the existing conditions of production, and, therefore, especially, for the purpose of forcibly keeping the exploited classes in the condition of oppression corresponding with the given mode of production (slavery, serfdom, wage-labor). The State was the official representative of society as a whole: the gathering of it together into a visible embodiment. But it was this only in so far as it was the State of that class which itself represented, for the time being, society as a whole; in ancient times, the State of slave-owning citizens; in the Middle Ages, the feudal lords; in our own times, the bourgeoisie. When at last it becomes the real representative of the whole of society, it renders itself unnecessary. As soon as there is no longer any class to be held in subjection; as soon as class rule, and the individual struggle for existence based upon our present anarchy in production, with the collisions and excesses arising from these are removed, nothing more remains to be repressed, and a special repressive force, a State, is no longer necessary. The first act by virtue of which the State really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society – taking possession of the means of production in the name of society – this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The state is not ‘abolished.’ It dies out. This gives the measure of the value of the phrase ‘a free State,’ both as to its justifiable use at times by agitators, and as to its ultimate scientific insufficiency; and also the demands of the so-called anarchists for the abolition of the State out of hand.”
Then, Marx and Engels in collaboration : “When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power properly so called, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms, and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class.”
With the Hegelian interpretation of the “internal constitution” and the “separation of functions” according to which there may be functions, but they cannot be really separate from each other, but, as with the notions, each must contain the others, and be one with the others, the Marxists can, in a sense, agree. Since for them the state is the tool of the master class, it is fundamentally a unity, and any internal separation, or “checks and balances” must be for the most part, if not a sheer farce, at least of but slight significance; though, sometimes, especially during the transition from one system of society to another, such as that in England during the birth of capitalism, it is true that the struggle between branches of the government may be very violent indeed, since each branch, at such a time, may represent a faction of the governing class as a whole.
Hegel’s peculiar division of powers into the legislature, the government, and the prince, which function to fix the universal, and to bring the particular under it, and so forth, finds no parallel whatever in Marx. Except, perhaps, that for Marx, too, the prince or king in a constitutional monarchy may be considered a sort of synthesis of, because he helps to preserve, or rather, is a symbol of, the balance between the opposing groups of landowners and capitalists. When Hegel speaks of the “legislation of the multitude,” the Marxists can but disagree flatly, saying that such a thing never happens in any sort of a monarchy. They agree heartily that the prince is usually not in any sense a “superman,” or “remarkable for bodily strength or intellect.”
It is, of course, a truism in the Marxist philosophy that wars between nations have, not as Hegel maintained, the function of realizing “the first freedom and highest dignity of a people,” but rather a sound material object, usually markets or colonies, for which the master-class in each of the con-tending countries is striving. Wars, then, of this type are, at least for the working class, almost entirely evil. Class wars, on the other hand, are absolutely necessary to attain the goal of the workers, the social commonwealth. Consequently, it is not force as such to which the Marxists object. They are not in any degree pacifists, as the following sentence from Engels, quoted by Lenin, will prove: “That force also plays another part in history (other than that of the perpetuation of evil), namely, a revolutionary part; that, as Mars says, it is the midwife of every old Society when it is pregnant with a new one; that force is the instrument and the means by which social movements hack their way through and break up the dead and fossilized political forms; – of all this not a word by Herr Dühring.” Following the quotation, Lenin refers to it as “this eulogy of a revolution by force.”
Regarding Hegel’s allusion to the state as the “Divine on Earth,” it is probably sufficiently apparent from the above that the Marxists would simply say “nonsense.”
The Logical Influence of Hegel on Marx. Rebecca Cooper 1925