Subject: Hegel & Political Economy

excerpts from thread on Hegel Society of America listserv at Bucknell University

From: vaiky- at -library.tmc.edu

Ricardo,

... My question for you is how do you evaluate Hegel within this context. In other words how does Hegel approach political economy. In his criticism of Hegel, Marx asserts that Hegel remains in the confines of bourgeois political economy! Do you agree with this? I have some ideas here but I would like to what others think about it first.


From: Wilfried Ver Eecke VEREECKW- at -gunet.georgetown.edu

Bill Maker edited a book on Hegel and the economy.

A German Philosopher-economist (Priddat) wrote an exceptionally good book on Hegel as Economist (in German of course).

Priddat's thesis is that Smith has clearly a different normative view of the economy compared with Hegel. Hegel kept some of the Medieval concern of the economy as they were living on in the German Cameralist tradition (advisers for the Princes; advice was given in private room (camera), not publicly in newspapers, publications etc). Hegel was concerned with the duty to provide decent income to all and thus is concerned with unemployment because it cause poverty, not because it diminishes economic growth. Adam Smith was concerned with the wealth of the nation: i.e., economic growth.

Hope this is helpful


From: "Peter G. Stillman" stillman- at -vassar.edu

To say that Hegel remains within the confines of bourgeois political economy depends, of course, on what those confines are. I think many bourgeois political economists would say that Hegel doesn't: for Hegel, the market is constructed, not natural; needs to be regulated (especially re basic commodities, like food), not completely free; is not the most important institution nor the final arbiter of individual needs; is not self-regulating but rather on its own is self-destructive; etc. Also, Hegel continually looks for the ethical as well as the economic dimensions of, e.g., work and the satisfaction of needs.

As has been said before on the list (frequently with the caveat that the poster has an essay in the book), there is a very good collection of essays, ed. William Maker, HEGEL ON ECONOMICS AND FREEDOM (Mercer Univ Press, I think, about 1985) -- perhaps obscure as bound paper, but lucid and enlightening to read.


From: "Ricardo Duchesne" RDUCHESN- at -unbsj.ca

Vaik, I know little about Hegel's political economy; Winfield is a good read because he takes on Marx directly. I like what Winfield says about Hegel's method having no presuppositions. But on the question of capitalism, I have trouble accepting his argument, which does hold but only in the case of a simple commodity economy. We can't forget that Hegel never experienced the full force of capitalism to be able to theorize about it.


From: Wilfried Ver Eecke VEREECKW- at -gunet.georgetown.edu

You give a beautiful summary of difference between Hegel's approach to economics and the British economists who created economic science and in some way the bourgeois calculus attacked by Marx.


From: William Hayes whayes- at -cln.etc.bc.ca

Peter Stillman wrote:

Hegel continually looks for the ethical as well as the economic dimensions of, e.g., work and the satisfaction of needs.

Which is reason to believe Hegel would be dead against the present dominance of the neoclassical economic model which measures price preferences and ignors need satisfaction. Also he'd be against the present partisan political model, led by corporate USA, Clinton and the 'greed is good' crowd, which uses national boundaries and consensus among the rich inter-nationally to drive down progressive environmental and labour standards. Rather than a world historic hero, perhaps he'd see Clinton as a world class villain.


From: Bruce Merrill merrillb- at -crisny.org

In what sense is "the market constructed, not natural" for Hegel? My impression was that market relations begin in self-interest, and that such self-interest-- including self-interested reciprocal instrumentalism-- is "natural." For Hegel, that is. Or do you mean not natural and constructed in the sense that the market needs to be regulated? But then it remains that Hegel would hold (with Smith, and against Rousseau) that market relations are au fond natural and legitimate. Not so?

I take the naturalness of material economic self-interest to connect to his congruent larger claims for the morally sanctioned naturalness of human happiness-seeking (with Aristotle, against Kant), just as these economic & ethical themes are connected in Smith.

Furthermore, I'm puzzled by the contention that the market is not self-regulating. It strikes me that this is a claim of Hegel's-- to an important degree, while not completely. Isn't this the point of his reiterated claim that a "form of universality" emerges here, i.e. isn't he claiming something along the lines of how rational allocation is generated spontaneously /unwittingly by individual self-interested actions? What is the emergent "form of universality" here if it is not rational allocation?


From: William Hayes whayes- at -cln.etc.bc.ca

Peter Stillman wrote:

"Those who would say the market is natural need to be asked, if so, then why is the market a historical rarety? why is it a modern invention?"

Maybe I'm missing something here or perhaps you're refering simply to money medium markets, Peter -- but markets, in general, appear as necessary for the emergence of cities: that is food, fibre, & minerals are farmed, gathered and mined by rural people to be traded with cities, who consume and utilize these raw resources to qualify goods in manufacturing used for trading amongst themselves and back to rural areas. Even with aboriginals the market was necessary for some. On the northwest coast of NA, the market and trade routes for oil with the interior aboriginals was substantial. The marketing of scarce goods in one area with abundance from another seems more the rule than the exception.

There are also curious parallels in nature, exemplied by the relationship between fungi and trees. A 100+ years ago, when scientists found that fungal and tree roots were intertwined they typically speculated that the fungi were parasites. Not so! What we've since found is the opposite: a symbiosis -- a natural market construct, trading paths based on each others scarcity and abundance in specialization. Fungi specialize in mining minerals and trade with trees who haven't developed techniques for mining some necessary minerals. The trees, through photosynthesis, are experts at manufacturing carbon, which fungi can't do. The two construct trade routes, roots between which are continually being constructed and de-constructed to the point where individuals in each species is at "liberty" to develop relationships with others.

Incidently, clearcut forestry definitely degrades and can destroy this trade web, which, I've long argued, is one reason why clearcuts are generally non-sustainable. By centring forestry on the clearcut, which ischeaper by present economic measures, we undermine and destroy sustainable systems.


From: "Ricardo Duchesne" RDUCHESN- at -unbsj.ca

Peter Stillman wrote:

"Those who would say the market is natural need to be asked, if so, then why is the market a historical rarety? why is it a modern invention?"

Hayes questions,

"Maybe I'm missing something here or perhaps you're refering simply to money medium markets"

Stillman is missing everything: trade with money (c-m-c, to use Marx's formula) was common even before the rise of the first civilizations 5000 thousand years ago. After that date it grows from being primarily local and regional to include much larger regions. linking China, India, and the Middle East. And not just simple exchange (c-m-c) but mercantile trade with a view to making money (m-c-m') - that is, long distance trade controlled by merchants. Aristotle knew well this distinction between what he called "natural" (c-m-c) and "unnatural" exchange (m-c-m'). Not "unnatural" in that it was rare but a threat to the mutual bonds of the community.


From: stillman- at -vassar.edu (Peter G. Stillman)

As soon as I hit 'send' on my comment, I wished I could have back my statement, "Those who would say the market is natural need to be asked, if so, then why is the market a historical rarety? why is it a modern invention?" (What I had in my mind, but not in my typing fingers, was the contemporary idea of the rational self-interested instrumental man, not the market, for markets -- esp. if you think of them in terms of exchange -- have existed always, but in very different forms.)

I in general agree with what you said.


From: Steve Heeren heerens- at -junction.net

This is a very enlightening discussion on political economy but a key element, implied in Ricardo's recent posts, has not yet been mentioned:

Marx's analysis of that commodity "peculiar" to capitalism - labour power.

That is, we now take for granted the existence of the "labour market" but that is merely what you would expect in a system of commodity production.

The labour market is somehow different from the market for cars, deodorants, oranges, etc.

In The Great Transformation (1944) Karl Polanyi shows that markets have existed in many different times and places but what is new with capitalism is the fact that labour itself becomes a commodity (a "peculiar" one, Marx says), unlike all previous forms of "the market."

Does Hegel have anything to say about labour itself (borne only by human beings!) being or becoming a commodity?


From: "Peter G. Stillman" stillman- at -vassar.edu

In terms of Hegel and Marx, labour power and wage labour, it is worth noting that Hegel has a strong justification of wage labor as connected to freedom in his discussion of property in the PR.

It has been a long time since I have looked carefully at its contexts, but Hegel says that wage labor (& freedom) is possible because we can alienate limited portions of our time and our selves (one hour of mechanical abilities, e.g.).

To alienate unlimited portions of time or self is, of course, slavery.

Hegel thus, as I remember, tries to solve a problem that had not, I think, been satisfactorily resolved before him (how to combine wage labor & freedom). (For earlier thinkers, I believe workers had been regarded as dependents, thus not free [thus not able to vote, eg.] -- I think this is both Kant and James Mill [what a pair!].) Hegel also forces Marx, then, to argue that wage labor is slavery because, altho' the appearance is that the worker sells his labor an hour at a time, that appearance hides what really happens, that the worker has to sell his labor his whole life through, and thus is really (not, I think Marx wishes to argue, not just metaphorically) a slave. (I am sure that Ricardo can correct me and provide the proper references.)


From: "Peter G. Stillman" stillman- at -vassar.edu

Despite my gaffe about the market and history, I am accurate (to the PR) that Hegel thinks that neither marriage nor the citizen's relaton to the state is properly a contract: sec. 75, among others. (So Hegel criticizes liberal contract theories of the state and of marriage.)

Paul will have to answer himself for his own statement and phrasing. I am inclined to see the 'end of history' in Hegel as less definite, perhaps, than his phrases suggest.


From: "Peter G. Stillman" stillman- at -vassar.edu

Dear Bruce, I am not sure if in an e-mail I can give a satisfactory reply to your quite sensible queries.

1. The market is at least "constructed, not natural" in that it is the result of human history -- as Hegel himself says of the right to private property (?52R of the PR). Human beings are not by nature persons with rights, nor self-interested agents of instrumental reason, etc.; they have only come to be that way through human history, esp. the history of the last 50 years (or last 300 years) for Hegel. At the least, then, where Smith talks of "natural liberty," Hegel would talk of historically constructed liberty. But also, I think, both Hegel and Smith think that the rules and the boundaries of "the market" are up for grabs -- Ooopps, are constructed. Smith spends a lot of time in WN (I think) trying to figure out how to make as many economic relations as possible market relations (unlike, e.g., Hobbes, who says that if you can't get what you want in the private [market] sphere, use money [bribes] in the public [gov'tal] sphere -- 'money is the life-blood of the commonwealth'), and to make as many market relations as possible relatively free, equal, and open relations (but businessmen will always talk about combining to restrain competition & workers ...); and Hegel too devotes efforts to trying to say what are and are not legitimate "objects" for contract: yes to external private property, no to spouses, state, religious belief, etc.

(Note the connection to some of my posts recently to Vaik: to my way of thinking, he talked of the market as tho' it were clear what it is. But it is not clear: "the market" is a construct, and always has been. [Those who would say the market is natural need to be asked, if so, then why is the market a historical rarety? why is it a modern invention?])

2. Hegel's market is not self-regulating. (If it were, you wouldn't need a state. Indeed, even for Smith the market is not self-regulating: if it were, you wouldn't need "Book V" of WN. [Indeed, the market is self-regulating only for those whom Marx would rightly call bourgeois ideologists: every market needs a state to define, pass, and enforce laws about property rights, theft, and fraud, e.g., and -- as I think the recent experiences of trying to force the former communist countries into capitalism has shown -- every market also needs its denizens to have a set of norms [not just norms of instrumental rational self-interested pursuits but also] of honesty, probity, morality, the upholding of rights, etc.])

But it is also explicitly not self-regulating: hence, the administration of justice and the public administration and the corporations. Hence sec. 239, about administrative interventions.

Hence also 241-245: on its own, as it grows, the market generates divisions of rich and poor, and the ethical degradation that each suffers.

(Hegel does not spell out his argument here, but I think it is not far from Marx's sense that formally equal contracts amongst those who are economically unequal produce results that are unequal, or--as A Smith argues in WN -- when workers and owners have a dispute about wages, owners tend to win, because in a dispute the owners lose some profits but the workers may starve.) That text (241-45) with its implicit arguments seems to me clear.

3. There is a glimmer of universality behind all this -- the paragraph in the Encyclopedia introducing civil society is wonderful, like the passage in the PR making an analogy with the solar system. But it is not a conscious (and therefore not a fully explicit and therefore not a satisfactory) universality. It is, in other words, a limited or partial universality.

I hope that the above makes sense. (In addition, I think it is correct.

Hegel on civil society is, I think, incredibly rich. Moreover, to read Adam Smith's WN is to appreciate, I think, his many insights. Much of what people say about A Smith and WN is simply not true, a parroting of free market economists who have never read Smith themselves. [It is not for nothing that Marx praised Smith & Ricardo as economic scientists who came up with many insights, in contrast -- for Marx -- with the bourgeois ideologes of his time. And, as we know, Hegel cites in praise Smith, Ricardo, and Say by name in PR.] Even better, read Sir James Steuart's Principles of Political OEconomy (1767), which, we are told, Hegel read and took copious notes on in his youth. Steuart especially, but even Smith (I think) see the market as neither natural nor self-defining in practice.)

Also, in the above, I have tried to give some citations, but they are all from memory. (NB Smith on "natural" is an interesting issue, but this post is way long enough.)


From: Bruce Merrill merrillbp- at -juno.com

As it happens, I'm working on the PR now, and the affinity between Hegel's doctrines and the Scottish Enlightenment is my dominant theme. So I have read a great deal of the WN, and have formed an opinion as to how much self-regulation and how much regulation is allowed for therein-- and it's on that basis that I tend to hold that, similarly, the core of Hegel's characterization of "commercial society" is benign. Less benign than Smith's (thus his preference for Steuart), but still essentially benign. By benign I mean the suppostion that materialist reciprocal instrumentalism is "natural"-- and furthermore civilizing. I hold that this is a more imporant aspect to civil society (for Hegel) than the case that it is inequitous or disruptive. It's the heart of the matter, as I read him.

(May I say, as an aside, that it's from that standpoint of the 18C debate over commercial society, going back to Mandeville et al, that I come at Hegel. This is my basic orientation.)

But you're right, this is getting us into more detail (involving both agreement and disagreement, I'm sure) than is appropriate here, in this medium. If you wish, I can mail you my work, when it's completed, and we can take it from there...

A few immediate comments:

1. The market is at least "constructed, not natural" in that it is the result of human history -- as Hegel himself says of the right to private property (?52R of the PR). Human beings are not by nature persons with rights, nor self-interested agents of instrumental reason, etc.; they have only come to be that way through human history, esp. the history of the last 50 years (or last 300 years) for Hegel. At the least, then, where Smith talks of "natural liberty," Hegel would talk of historically constructed liberty.

Yes, but Smith's "natural liberty" is also historically embedded, being the conclusion to the so-called "four stages" theory. (It may strike you that I'm jumping over to the other side of the fence-- but I submit that the structural similarities between their notions of history and commercial society are more important than their terminology.) But also, I think, both Hegel and Smith think that

the rules and the boundaries of "the market" are up for grabs -- Ooopps, are constructed.

Against this (?), I would stress the theme that rules & boundaries are unwittingly evolved, not wittingly constructed. Providential history is cunning, for both.

(Note the connection to some of my posts recently to Vaik: to my way of thinking, he talked of the market as tho' it were clear what it is. But it is not clear: "the market" is a construct, and always has been. [Those who would say the market is natural need to be asked, if so, then why is the market a historical rarety? why is it a modern invention?])

Agreed. (And I assume you are familiar with the historical/anthropological writings of Karl Polyani on this topic?)

I hope that the above makes sense.

Yes, it does. Thank you very much for the generous presentation, Peter.

Smith on "natural" is an interesting issue, but this post is way long enough.)

That's right. Smith's "natural" is tendentious, if that's what you're getting at... But Hegel's conceptions of "actuality" & "freedom" etc. are also tendentious (from my admittedly external perspective) -- and for strikingly similar reasons.


From: "Ricardo Duchesne" RDUCHESN- at -unbsj.ca

We shouldn't expect Hegel to have "solved" the problem of combining wage labor and freedom since he did not have the benefit of knowning the crucial distinction the later Marx drew between labor and labor power. The capitalist does not buy labor unless he is buying a slave; s/he buys labor power. If labor refers to the person, labor power refers to the capacity of the worker to work for a certain period of time, which is what the capitalist purchases. This purchase is "fair" insofar as the capitalist pays the going price.

Now, wage labor is not slave labor because the worker has to work as a wage worker throughout his life. It is really never slave labor since the capitalist has no right over the life of the worker.

However s/he does have a right over the use of the labor power that was purchased. And since the capitalist wants to make sure s/he will realize the potential of the purchased labor to produce a value higher than its cost, s/he will exercised as much control as s/he can over the labor process. The worker is not free in the management of his/her labor power. Therein lies the mystery of the "commodity" labor power - in quotation marks because this is a relation of production altogether different from market relations. Marx's discovery was that within the heart capitalism lies a `master-slave' dialectic running against the principle of equal sovereignty.

Problem: 1) Lenin welcomed "Taylorism" in Soviet Russia, something which Engels had already anticipated in his criticism of the anarchists (letter of 1872).

2) Why would it be unfair for the capitalist to manage labor power for the time s/he has paid for given that s/he has bought this power at a "fair" price? So, the issue, as Vaik may have been pointing to, is that the exchange is unequal and coerced because the worker had no choice but to sell his/her labor power. In that case the exchange between the capitalist and the worker is like any other monopoly exchange - which brings in the brilliant analysis of John Roemer and his claim that the source of exploitation and injustice under capitalism - especially since the labor theory of value has so many problems - must be located in the unequal and unfair distribution of property.


From: vaik yousefi vaiky- at -library.tmc.edu

I just checked out a book from library written by Shlomo Avineri under the title of "Hegel's Theory of the Modern State". Under the section "Modern Life and Social Reality" there is a subsection called "Labour, Alienation and the Power of the Market". (Unfortunately I do not have access to many sources on this topic at the moment and books such as this might be somewhere to start!)

In this section the author analyzes some of the aspects of Hegel's approach to such issues as the Market, Labour, Productivity of Labour, Alienation, Machinery, etc. I am not sure to what extent one can agree to his analysis of Hegel's position on such issues but his statements seem to me to be interesting enough in relation to the topic under discussion in this thread.

I will present some of the extracts of this section in my next posting. I would like to mention in passing that there are a number of interesting observations in the postings of many members of the list on this thread. I hope this will continue as long as the subject is of interest to some people!


From: "Ricardo Duchesne" RDUCHESN- at -unbsj.ca

David, the passage you cite from PR does make the distinction between the use of labor and the laborer. However I wouldn't conclude from this that Hegel had already anticipated Marx. If I may use this analogy: China *invented* the stirrup, the horse collar, the compass, paper and printing but it did not *innnovate* them as Europe was to do later on. Simply, Marx has a full sytematic argument behind this distinction. Please elaborate your point on the Factory Acts. On the contractual character of wage labor, Marx's goal was precisely to show that wage labor is a juridical relation at the level of exchange but not (directly) so inside the factory. The capitalist has bought the right away from the worker to manage/control his/her labor process.

When times allows I will pick up Vaik's comments.


From: "Ricardo Duchesne" RDUCHESN- at -unbsj.ca

Ballard:

If labor doesn't create exchange and use-value, then what does? Nature, of course, has become a commodity, to be bought and sold; but other than this phenomenon, what, other than labor, is creating value?

Ballard you had also asked me before to give you a more precise cite on the Lenin-Engels stuff.

See Engels's article "On Authority" (1872):

"Supposing a social revolution dethroned the capitalists, who now exercise their authority over the production and circulation of wealth. Supposing, to adopt entirely the point of view of the anti-authoritarians, that the land and the instruments of labour had become the collective property of the workers who use them. Will authority have disappeared or will it only have changed its form?....All these workers...are obliged to begin and finish their work at the hours fixed by the authority of the steam, which cares nothing for individual autonomy....The automatic machinery of a big factory is much more despotic than the small capitalists who employ workers ever have been [!]...If man, by dint of his knowledge and inventive genius, has subdued the forces of nature, the latter avenge themselves upon him by subjecting him, in so far as he employs them, to a veritable despotism independent of all social organization" [!]

Lenin's positive attitude to Taylorism was more in this technological "context" than as a nessary burden that an undeveloped society must adopt.

If not labor what then? In any economy where it is possible to produce a surplus, it can be shown that not just labor but any good (corn, or land) can be exploited.


From: David MacGregor macbishop- at -sympatico.ca

Ricardo, you have touched on an extremely important aspect of the theories of Marx and Hegel on labour. But Hegel did draw the distinction between labour and labour power, in Philosophy of Right. "It is only when use [of labour] is restricted that a distinction between use and substance arises. So here, the use of my powers differs from my powers and therefore from myself, only in so far as it is quantitatively restricted." This is a key argument in Hegel, and it is strange that Marxist writers have not picked it up. As I detailed in The Communist Ideal in Hegel and Marx, this big Marxian discovery was actually an Hegelian invention. Moreover, missed on this whole discussion of labour and wages and the difference with slavery is that Marx, spent a lot of time in Capital discussing the English Factory Acts precisely because no distinction of time had yet been legally drawn into the labour contract.

This was a distinction that deeply concerned Hegel as well as Marx, as I have argued elsewhere. The labour contract, as David Ellerman has beautifully argued, is first and foremost a juridical relationship, and this has far-reaching consequences.

Please forgive me, Ricardo, for this brief and didactic reply to your important post.


From: David MacGregor macbishop- at -sympatico.ca

Thanks for your message, Ricardo. A friend of mine, David Ellerman, once noted that Marx's famous distinction between labour and labour power is really only another way to talk about renting something. For example, you go to Hertz and rent a car, but you get the "car power", not a title to the car itself. You may even exploit the car further by driving it more than the average user, leaving it dirty, etc. Eventually you return the car and pay for the hours and kilometres used. Similarly, the capitalist is "renting" the worker, using her "labour power", but not her very being, as in slavery. As in the labour contract, interestingly, you pay for the use of the rental car after you have used it, not before.


From: "Ricardo Duchesne" RDUCHESN- at -unbsj.ca

I guess you don't think there is anything special about labor power. One can say there's nothing special about labor in creating a value higher than its cost (if we agree that anything (corn) can be used as the value numeraire). Problem here is that it reduces the capitalist/wage relation to a technical one when it is really a social relation in the sense that the very being of the worker is under the control of the capitalist for a specified amount of time, forced to work under. Moreover, the productivity of the worker, unlike, say, corn, is not determine by technology alone but class conflict as well.


From: David MacGregor macbishop- at -sympatico.ca

A large part of my second book (Hegel, Marx and the English State) is devoted to discussing the role of the Factory Acts in Marx's theory of capitalist society. A key point made by Marx (who followed Hegel on this) is that wage labour can only be different from slavery if there is some limit on the time the worker is expected to labour for the master, and also some limit on the age of the labourer. This is why the early agitation for shorter hours during the industrial revolution in Britain called itself a movement against "wage slavery". What's the difference between a person working virtually all her waking hours for the capitalist, and the person who is enslaved by a master? Or between slavery and a system that enlists all the children in the family, from as young as 4 or 5, into the machinery of production?

The reason this is a juridical relationship is that the wage contract must spell out "the hours of work" and it must be made between persons of legal age, otherwise it is not a contract at all, in the juridical sense.

Marx knew this, and that is why the Factory Acts were so important for him.

They spelled out the hours of the day, and the legal age of workers, and even violated the sacred precincts of the factory in order to allow their enforcement. Now these (age and hours of work) are what I call "external violations" of the labour contract. You are right that there are other, perhaps more important, "substantial violations" of contract, once the worker enters the factory and loses his or her rights of free will and ownership. Hegel also discusses these substantial violations of contract, I argue, in the Philosophy of Right.

Thanks again for your stimulating comments, Ricardo.


From: "Ricardo Duchesne" RDUCHESN- at -unbsj.ca

David, you are right, Marx took those Acts very seriously, and they do show that wage-labor is NOT slave labor since workers can push for "good" contracts, which also illustrates that labor power is indeed a special commodity since capitalists do not own it the same way do their machinery. Note too that those better contracts were achieved through class struggle. Plus the capitalist always retains the right to fire the worker...


From: "Ricardo Duchesne" RDUCHESN- at -unbsj.ca

Ellerman's point (based on an argument from Hegel) is precisely that labour-power is different from other "commodities", but the difference lies in the intentionality and will of the worker. A commodity--whether a rent-a-car or corn--has no such quality. Class struggle or whatever might change price and terms of labour but as long as the wage contract exists it does not get at the root of the problem: which is a fraudulent notion of contract that ignores will and intentionality on the part of the worker.

This special quality of labour gives the worker the right to the negative and positive results of the labour process, in other words, it provides the worker with an ownership right in the means of production (this latter term, by the way, is used by Hegel).

Here is where we get at the gist of the problem: unlike Hegel, Marx did not recognize property rights, and called for "collective ownership of the means of production". The labour theory of property, on the other hand, which is what I have been discussing, gives each worker ownership rights in the corporate enterprise.

All the best, Ricardo


From: David MacGregor macbishop- at -sympatico.ca

Ellerman's point (based on an argument from Hegel) is precisely that labour-power is different from other "commodities", but the difference lies in the intentionality and will of the worker. A commodity--whether a rent-a-car or corn--has no such quality. Class struggle or whatever might change price and terms of labour but as long as the wage contract exists it does not get at the root of the problem: which is a fraudulent notion of contract that ignores will and intentionality on the part of the worker.

This special quality of labour gives the worker the right to the negative and positive results of the labour process, in other words, it provides the worker with an ownership right in the means of production (this latter term, by the way, is used by Hegel).

Here is where we get at the gist of the problem: unlike Hegel, Marx did not recognize property rights, and called for "collective ownership of the means of production". The labour theory of property, on the other hand, which is what I have been discussing, gives each worker ownership rights in the corporate enterprise.


From: "Ricardo Duchesne" RDUCHESN- at -unbsj.ca

First, let me acknowledge that your previous commentary on Hegel, Marx and the English State is a serious challenge to the Marxist thesis, for the Factory Acts do suggest that laborers may indeed succeed limiting somewhat the degree of authority capitalists can exercise within the workplace.

The question is can such reforms ever do away with the unequal power capitalists enjoy over workers in the workplace. Taylorism? Downsizing?

Are you really saying that Hegel was a market socialist, or that he would have supported something like the cooperativist Mondragon Group? That would certainly have been a revolutionary idea - I mean just a few decades back Kant had excluded propertyless workers from the franshise and other civic rights.

On the question of intentionality, Marx located human freedom in the act of work itself, really setting about a whole revolution in the way work was seen, away from the religious idea of it as punishment (although this is complicated by the other idea of "good works") or the liberal idea of disutility and pain.


From: David MacGregor macbishop- at -sympatico.ca

You are right, Ricardo, such reforms are unlikely to end the rule of capital.

However, I think they are necessary in order to improve the conditions of workers, and also to prepare for more radical changes ahead.

Are you really saying that Hegel was a market socialist, or that he would have supported something like the cooperativist Mondragon Group? That would certainly have been a revolutionary idea - I mean just a few decades back Kant had excluded propertyless workers from the franshise and other civic rights.

When I first started to work on Hegel, almost twenty-five years ago, my own findings startled me. I was looking for something in Hegel that would help me to understand Marx better. Instead I found a philosopher, in Hegel, who spoke directly to our own era. But my conclusions, I have decided, are startling only because of a huge chasm in the history of intellectual life caused by two world wars and the loss of whole generations of Marxist and radical intellectuals.

This legacy survived, though in a severely distorted form, in the work of Lukacs (especially his, The Young Hegel). It also survived in the renewed post-war corporate institutions of northern Europe, which now create such disbelief among our market-centered commentators. The Hegelian legacy lives wherever labour has succeeded in achieving a leading role in the governance of corporations.

Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands reflect the politics of social democracy which go back to Ferdinand Lassalle in mid-19th century Germany. Notice how American journalists react to the news that corporate mergers involving Volvo and Mercedes Benz depend on the votes of the workers in those enterprises! Volvo, for example, turned back an earlier union with Renault because the workers did not like the attitude of French managers.

Now, of course, Hegel himself had nothing directly to do with the reforms of social democracy. His philosophy reflected the labour institutions already developing in Germany at the time, and which had been in the process of evolution for centuries. But Hegel put his philosophical imprimatur on these developments, in a way that no thinker has managed to do, before or since Hegel.

On the question of intentionality, Marx located human freedom in the act of work itself, really setting about a whole revolution in the way work was seen, away from the religious idea of it as punishment (although this is complicated by the other idea of "good works") or the liberal idea of disutility and pain.

Actually it was Luther who changed the way we see the role of work in the human enterprise. Hegel continued his revolution, as did Marx.

All the best, Ricardo

David MacGregor


From: "En Lin Wei" wei_en_lin- at -hotmail.com

Aren't we missing something here? It is the know how, the technique for acquiring wealth, which is all-valuable here. This must come first, because the labour power would have no value without this.

I fail to see how technique is "all valuable."

How does the technique create value without the workers who manufacture goods using the technique?

In each historical epoch value is created by the worker and appropriated by the owners of the "technique" (or mode by which the means of production operate). Even in feudal society there were special techniques to cultivate the land. The landlord reaped the benefits.

In modern societies, while the technique is more important, the social order still dictates that value is created by the worker and appropriated, controlled, owned, and distributed by the capitalist. The scientist who creates a new method of production does not create value.

Value is only created when workers are employed to use the method and produce goods which can be sold. Nor does the scientist reap the full benefit of his invention: inventors only receive what the capitalist deems to be a "fair share" of the surplus product.

"Know how" is not all-valuable. It merely gives form to the means of production. One can create economic value with relatively low levels of know-how. But without labor, the creation of value is impossible.

Technological innovation increases the productivity of labor, but does not create value. Just as a microscope magnifies our ability to see, but remains useless without the eye , so new and more efficient machinery without labor is useless, and can produce nothing.

Hegel understood this when he said, in the Phil of Rt. that the objects of nature become "property" when effort or "will" is expended on the alteration of such objects. See the section on property. Marx's analysis is, of course, more sophisticated, but the two views have much in common.


From: bruce merrill merrillbp- at -juno.com

Wilfried Ver Eecke:

I published or have manuscripts accepted for publications on several of the topics described. If you are interested I can give the references.

Yes, please. I would appreciate references to your writings concerning Hegel's relation to Smith, and his work on economics in general.


From: Wilfried Ver Eecke VEREECKW- at -gunet.georgetown.edu

Here are the requested references. I hope it is helpful.

References

Publications on Hegel and philosophy of economics.


From: Wilfried Ver Eecke VEREECKW- at -gunet.georgetown.edu

Bruce: I agree with your thoughts. That is what I also defended in two of my articles.

One additional thought. Hegal does not seem to see a solution to the political int the PHG and moves there to Kantian moralism as the solution. In the Ph of R he finds a solution by introducing the British thinking about the economy as preliminary to a political order that is not atomistic as aimed at in the utopia of the French revolution.


From: "Vaik Yousefi" vaiky- at -library.tmc.edu

Since I raised the problem of Hegel's approach to political economy many people have made comments on the subject and yet there is little mention of what Hegel actually said in this regard (with some exceptions). I hope the following will raise a more direct approach to this topic.

In his book HEGEL'S THEORY OF THE MODERN STATE (1972, Cambridge University Press), Shlomo Avineri makes extensive comments on Hegel's political economy that I found informative if not always accurate (specially when it comes to his comparisons between Hegel and Marx on this topic). I will mention some of the relevant passages under certain headings that I think appropriate to the discussions on this list.

PROPERTY:

Avineri's first assessment of Hegel's approach to the role of Labour in modern society deals with Hegel's discussions of this subject in two of his earlier writings, namely, REALPHILOSOPHIE (I & II) and SYSTEM DER SITTLICHKEIT.

In the latter work, according to Avineri, Hegel :

"tries to delineate the context within which a philosophy of social relationships can be justified. Sittlichkeit, ethical life, is defined by Hegel as the identification of the individual with the totality of his social life. What Hegel sets our to do is to describe the series of mediations necessary for individual consciousness to find itself in this totality."(P87)

There follows a discussion of Hegel's philosophical approach to the question of the relationship between the subject and nature. The individual consciousness first realizes its separateness from nature which in turn gives rise to the impulse to overcome this separation. According to Hegel:

"Man wants to devour the object, and Hegel projects this process in three stages: a) need; b) the overcoming and fulfillment of need; and c) satisfaction. Through satisfaction the individual achieves this transcendence of separation, but only on an immediate level: this satisfaction, in which the object is being destroyed, is purely sensuous and negative. It is limited to a particular object and cannot be generalized. The consciousness of separation remains after each individual act of subsumption."(p88)

It is this attempt at overcoming the separation between the individual and object which is the point of emergence of the property for Hegel (as Avineri argues!). However, the mere act of appropriation of the object does not create a property. Hegel distinguishes between two aspects of the act of possession. Hegel argues that:

"The right of possession relates immediately to things, not to a third party, Man has a right to take into possession as much as he can as an individual. He has this right, it is implied in the concept of being himself: through this he asserts himself over all things. But his taking into possession implies also that he excludes a third."(p88)

The right of possession does not in and of itself imply property. The possession to be considered as property of an individual it must be recognized as such by another, a third party outside of the relationship between the individual and the object. This implies, in essence, that property is a social phenomenon and not a natural one and hence the right to private property is a social phenomenon and not a natural right.

Therefore, in Avineri's reading of Hegel's argument:

"Property is thus to Hegel a moment in man's struggle for recognition. It does not derive from merely physical needs, and has thus an anthropological significance..Yet there still remains an accidental element in possession, even when turned into property, since the objects of property relate to this or that individual in a wholly arbitrary way." (p89)

What is it that overcomes this accidental nature of property? According to Avineri it is Labour that Hegel introduces as that element which overcomes this accidentality.

LABOUR:

It is in labour that the act of possession transcends its negative, destructive side. It is that which mediates between the individual and the object. So that:

"Only through labour, Hegel maintains, 'is the accidentality of coming into possession being transcended (aufgehoben)'. Labour, to Hegel, is the sublimation of primitive enjoyment; in labour 'one abstracts from enjoyment, i.e. one does not achieve it...The object, as an object, is not annihilated, but another is posited in its stead' ".(p89)

Labour is the 'locus of a synthesis of the subjective and the objective'. It is through labour that the individual is recognized by others and acts as the universal link between the individual and others. Hence, according to Hegel:

" 'Labour is the universal interaction and education (Bildung) of man...a recognition which is mutual, or the highest individuality.' In labour , man become ' a universal for the other, but so does the other' ". (p89)

After this premelinary remarks about Labour in general Avineri turns to Hegel's discussions of Labour's negative aspects in social life. There are two opposing aspects to the process of labour, one is positive and the other negative. Here of course we are dealing with the alienating aspect of social labour. Social labour produces objects not for personal need but for the need of others. The immediate problem with this process, Hegel points out, is that while the individual need is concrete the social need is abstract.

Hence, the object of my production is not merely for my own satisfaction but in order to be exchanged for objects of my satisfaction produced by.

Hegel argues, therefore, that (the next few passages are entirely by Hegel):

"Because work is being done for the need as an abstract being-for-self, one also works in an abstract way…General labour is thus division of labour, saving…Every individual, as an individual, works for A need. The content of his labour [however] transcends HIS need; he works for the satisfaction of many, and so [does] everyone. Everyone satisfies thus the needs of many, and the satisfaction of his many particular needs is the labour of many others.
Since his labour is thus this abstraction, he behaves as an abstract self, or according to the way of thingness, not as a comprehensive, rich, all-encompassing spirit, who rules over a wide range and masters it. He has no concrete work; his power is in analysis, in abstraction,, in the breaking up of the concrete into many abstract aspects."(p90)

Again,

"Man thus satisfies his needs, but not through the object which is being worked upon by him; by satisfying his needs, it becomes something else. Man does not produce anymore that which he needs, nor does he need anymore that which he produces. Instead of this, the actuality of the satisfaction of his needs becomes merely the possibility of this satisfaction. His work becomes a general, formal, abstract one, single; he limits himself to one of his needs and exchanges this for the other necessities"(p90)

What is the end result of this process?

"This system of needs is, however, formally conceived as the system of universal reciprocal physical inter-dependence. Nobody is for himself [regarding] totality of his needs. His work, or any method whatsoever of his ability to satisfy his needs, does not satisfy it. It is an alien power (eine fremde Macht), over which he has no control and on which it depends whether the surplus, which he possesses, constitutes for him the totality of his satisfaction…His labour and his possessions are not what they are for him, but what they are for all. The satisfaction of needs is a universal dependence of all on all; there disappears for everyone the security and the knowledge that his work is immediately adequate to his particular needs; HIS particular need becomes universal"(p90)

Therefore while labour has a positive side as the process through which the individual appropriates nature and receives recognition from others as an individual, it is also an alienating process which creates an alien power over which the individual does not have any direct control. This, Hegel argues, is not an accidental feature of labour but an essential feature of social labour in general and specially within the context of modern division of labour process. Hegel, according to Avineri, makes many references to Adam Smith's discussions of the conditions of work in industrial factories.

Hegel's observations in this respect are specially interesting (something that according to Avineri is missing from Hegel's discussions in Philosophy of Right). Hegel says, for example:

"The particularization of labour multiplies the mass of production; in an English manufacture, 18 people work at the production of a needle; each has a particular and exclusive side of the work to perform; a single person could probably not produce 120 needles, even not one…But the value of labour decreases in the same proportion as the productivity of labour increases.
Work becomes thus absolutely more and more dead, it becomes machine-labour, the individual's own skill becomes infinitely limited, and the consciousness of the factory worker is degraded to the utmost level of dullness. The connection between the particular sort of labour and the infinite mass of needs becomes wholly imperceptible, turns into a blind dependence. It thus happens that a far-away operation often affects a whole class of people who have hitherto satisfied their needs through it; all of a sudden it limits [their work], makes it redundant and useless. (p93)

WORKER

And what is the effect of this process on the worker ?

"In the same way, [the worker] becomes through the work of the machine more and more machine-like, dull, spiritless. The spiritual element, the self-conscious plentitude of life, becomes an empty activity. The power of the self resides in rich comprehension: this is being lost. He can leave some work to the machine; his own doing thus becomes even more formal. His dull work limits him to one point, and labour is the more perfect, the more one-sided it is…In the machine man abolishes his formal activity and makes it work for him. But this deception, which he perpetrates upon nature…takes vengeance on him. The more he takes away from nature, the more he subjugates her, the baser he becomes himself…The amount of labour decreases only for the whole, not for the individual: on the contrary, it is being increased, since the more mechanized labour becomes, the less value it possesses, and the more must the individual toil" (p94)

Avineri considers Hegel's discussion of the alienating nature of labour as a precursor to that of Marx in the Manuscripts of 1844. I would argue that this is not entirely correct. However, it is clear that Hegel is acutely aware of this alienating side of labour process in modern society (modern because Hegel does not explicitly speak of Capitalism here). Avineri will argue later that despite this recognition of the alienating nature of labour and its negative effects on the worker, Hegel hardly mentions the same subject with the same intensity and urgency his Philosophy of Right.

MONEY & MARKET

In general I think Avineri couches his discussions of Hegel in terms of the political economy which is not present in Hegel in this precise form. For example, Hegel never uses such concepts as use value and exchange value.

Nevertheless, I am willing to accept his argument to the effect that Hegel was more or less using the context of classical political economy in his discussions. According to Avineri, Hegel was one of the first thinkers who was clearly aware of the social consequences of industrialization in Germany. It seems to me that at this point Hegel relies mostly on the discussion of these results in the literature of the classical political economy. However, it is not inconceivable that he was aware of these effects. The point is, nevertheless, that such an awareness, Avineri is forced to admit later on, did not play an important role in his later discussions in the Philosophy of Right. Hegel seems to be aware, for example, of the tendency of the industrial societies for overproduction and hence the contradictory nature of this production which creates a whole class of the population that can not afford to purchase things precisely because of this overproduction. He also shows how acutely aware he was of the tendency of this process to create great gaps between the poor and the wealthy. Thus, Hegel argues:

"Wealth, like any other mass, makes itself into a power. Accumulation of wealth takes place partly by chance, partly through the universal mode of production and distribution. Wealth is a point of attraction…It collects everything around itself-just like a large mass attracts to itself the smaller one. To them that have, shall be given. ..This inequality of wealth and poverty, this need and necessity, turn into the utmost tearing up (Zerrissenheit) of the will, an inner indignation (Emporung) and hatred." (p97)

Consequently:

"This necessary inequality…causes through its quantitative constitution…a relationship of domination. The enormously rich individual becomes a power, he transcends the continuing physical dependence [which meant that one] depended upon a universal, not a particular [power]. "(p98)

In my next posting I will turn to Avineri's discussions of Hegel's approach to Class, State, etc.

Best Regards


From: "Peter G. Stillman" stillman- at -vassar.edu

I think that Vaik has done a real service by quoting so much from Avineri's book, although personally I think that Vaik's quotations cannot substitute for Avineri's book and articles, and that Avineri's material is no substitute for reading Hegel with Avineri's material.

Thus, for instance, while it may be accurate that " Hegel never uses such concepts as use value and exchange value", it would be odd if he did not, since the distinction goes back to Aristotle's *Politics* and appears in Hegel's discussion of property and contract (PR, secs. 63 & 77). While it may be accurate to say that, in terms of Hegel's knowledge of the social consequences of industrialization, "Hegel relies mostly on the discussion of these results in the literature of the classical political economy," it is also the case that Hegel was a regular reader (and clipper) of English newspapers and (as his writing on the English Reform Bill shows) kept up with English politics. Vaik is correct to say that "the political economy ... is not present in Hegel in this precise form," and I think that one immediate question that arises is, why does Hegel, who could have adopted directly the political economy of "Smith, Ricardo, and Say," use instead the formulation of "the system of needs". At one obvious level, the question answers itself; but the full answer is also interesting.

I find Avineri's book one of the best on Hegel, but it is worth pointing out that there are other, good books on the PR, which take different interpretations at some points. (For someone interested in Marx, Avineri's book is probably one of the most interesting, though of course Plant's and MacGregor's books are invaluable too ....)


From: "En Lin Wei" wei_en_lin- at -hotmail.com

Complements to Vaik Yousefi for posting and analyzing a number of useful quotes. I believe the quotations shed a great deal of light on importance of Hegel's theories of labor for modern theorists of socialism. It would appear to be the case that Hegel's analysis of property (contained in the Phil of Right) is not as detailed or progressive as that contained in his earlier works, esp. those cited by Avineri (namely, REALPHILOSOPHIE (I & II) and SYSTEM DER SITTLICHKEIT).

Take for example the following quote:

" 'Labour is the universal interaction and education (Bildung) of man...a recognition which is mutual, or the highest individuality.' In labour, man become ' a universal for the other, but so does the other' "

These and other quotes imply that LABOUR, not capital, is the social adhesive which binds humanity. There seems to be little in Hegel which endorses capitalism (or atomism) as a morally valid social system. I believe this is why Anglo-American philosophers avoid Hegel. Hegel's organicism can be used to justify or formulate a syndicalist philosophy, or a socialist philosophy, or any philosophy which binds humans together for a "universal purpose". The "highest individuality" is realized in what Proudhon and Kropotkin would describe as MUTUALISM, and not capitalism. For those who argue that Hegel or hegelianism is compatible with capitalism, I would ask the following questions.

Why do apologists for capitalism (esp, in the US and Britain) shy away from Hegel. Don't they have a visceral sense that Hegelian Logic would undermine capital's internal contradictions?

Is the following, from Avineri, a valid statement: "Only through labour, Hegel maintains, 'is the accidentality of coming into possession being transcended (aufgehoben)' . Are not most acts of possession in a capitalist society simply "arbitrary." ? That is to say, is not property acquired through acts of inheritance and exploitation, rather than through a fair assessment of the labor involved in the creation of a particular product?

Does it not follow that, since through labor "man becomes a universal for the other," a non-capitalist system of ownership, control, and distribution is both socially and logically necessary? Should not a universal or public system of distribution be preferable to a system relying on private appropriate of socially produced goods? (Personally, I would prefer the socialist libertarian approach, which balances democratic control of individual enterprises with the larger needs of society via democratically elected, worker controlled councils on the regional and national levels. I also think that such a system would be more consistent with an updated, developing Hegelianism).

I can see how egoists, hedonists, or relativists can embrace capitalism.

I can see how social Darwinists or self-proclaimed Nietszcheans or Ayn Randian "objectivists" can embrace capitalism. I can also see how defenders of particular class-interests, or how a person wishing to protect his or her own class privilges would justify capitalism. But I do not see how Hegelian thought, as a living and progressive mode of thinking, is in anyway compatible with capitalist assumptions about society and justice.

Wei


From: Bruce Merrill merrillb- at -crisny.org

Peter Stillman wrote:

"Vaik is correct to say that "the political economy ... is not present in Hegel in this precise form," and I think that one immediate question that arises is, why does Hegel, who could have adopted directly the political economy of "Smith, Ricardo, and Say," use instead the formulation of "the system of needs". At one obvious level, the question answers itself; but the full answer is also interesting.

Would you care to say a bit more as to why Hegel favors that formulation?

My first supposition would be simply that "system of needs" captures Hegel's sustained theme of the conjunction of universality (i.e. "system") and particularity (i.e. "needs") within Civil society.

But I suspect that that is too obvious, and you have something else in mind here.


From: "Peter G. Stillman" stillman- at -vassar.edu

Dear Bruce, I was worried that someone might call me on my comment -- worried only because I am not in a position now to try to remember and re-think-through my own interpretation of the terminology.

In addition to what you say, I think that Hegel begins "political economy" in a good dialectical way, with needs (which presupposes as little as possible, the next stage beyond the family, which in the modern world cannot supply for daily & recurrent needs) and then goes to work and then to resources & estates; so I think he ties "political economy" directly to human needs, rather than lose that direct connection at the start.

Relatedly, I think that Hegel wants to demonstrate that "economy" must be political, not that it is so by definition -- so Hegel begins with the bare needs, work, exchange, etc., and shows how it needs an administration of justice & public administration to direct & order it, and then how the a.of j. and pub. administration need the state, to give them the goals towards which to direct the "economy".

(Related to the above, for those interested in Marx, is that Marx in Capital also adopts a non-"political economy" title, characterization, and beginning point -- he starts with the commodity, because he thinks it is the germ and central phenomenon of capitalism [I think]. And Marx, as I remember, doesn't use "political economy," except to add in the 2nd & later editions the subtitle, "critique of political economy.")

But the above concentrates a lot of Hegel's dialectic, and on the centrality of the satisfaction of needs; and I think it only begins to touch the surface of what is going on.


From: "Vaik Yousefi" vaiky- at -library.tmc.edu

This is my third posting containing a discussion of Avineri's comments on Hegel's Political Economy. I must first clarify a point regarding my postings. I do not want to give the impression that I agree with everything that Avineri's says in his discussions on this topic. My aim is to give the discussion concerning Hegel's approach to the problems in political economy a little more substance and to create a more fruitful context for these discussions. What I am aiming at is to develop a general perspective on Hegel's theoretical approach to political economy as much as it is possible to do so. With these introductory remarks I turn to Avineri's Chapter 7, entitled "The Political Economy of Modern Society".

In his Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences, Hegel divides the section dealing with the philosophy of spirit into three parts: subjective spirit, objective spirit and absolute spirit. The part on objective spirit is then dealt with in much greater detail in the Philosophy of Right. It is this part which concerns itself with law, morality and ethical life (Sittlichkeit) as the objective, institutional expressions of spirit. (p132)

And what is the objective spirit?

"Objective spirit is the realm within which human consciousness comes into its own: 'Ethical life is the unity of the will in its concept with the will of the individual'. This unity of content and form when integrated into consciousness is freedom' "( p132)

Incidentally, here it might be interesting to note, that according to some commentators this notion of an ethical life in Hegel owes a great deal to his conceptions of the nature of Greek Polis. Pelczynski, for example, points to this source in his essay "The Hegelian conception of the State" (published in, "Hegel's Political Philosophy-problems and perspectives", edited by Z.A. Pelczynski, Cambridge 1971):

"The insight which he gained from the analysis of ancient Greek philosophy, history and literature was that men form genuine communities only when they share the same conceptions of the good life, and identify themselves wholeheartedly with the basic moral ideals of their country or culture. These shared and universally accepted conceptions and values, which are alive and operative in actions and attitudes of community members, and (so to say) incapsulated in the customs, laws and institutions which regulate their relations, Hegel calls Sittlichkeit...Greek political institutions were not something apart from the ethos of the polis, but part and parcel of its ethical life, indeed almost its most important part. A polis was an ethical community which had a political aspect, not a community on which political institutions were so to speak superimposed from outside...This ideal of polis as an ethical community Hegel applied to the modern state during the Jena period."(p6)

However, Hegel did not believe that this model of a Greek polis can be applied to modern social life in its original form. And this was also true of the form of direct democracy practiced in the polis. Pelczynski points to fundamental differences that Hegel perceived in the nature of social life in the Greek polis and in modern societies. One difference is of course the increased size and complexity of the modern nation states that makes the practice of direct democracy of the Athenian type impossible (I will not argue here to what extent this is correct at the moment). However,

"an even more important difference lay in the nature of the ethical bond between the individual and the community which is typical of the two cultures. The Greek polis absorbed its members so completely and its ethos was so sacrosanct that it was inconceivable to them to question the fundamental principles of the polis or to assert any claims to the satisfaction of their own particular interests when they participated in politics. Moreover, the citizens' identification with the community was unconscious and spontaneous. It was brought about by customs, traditions and civic education, and reinforced by art, literature, philosophy and religion, which were all integral parts of the Greek way of life or 'the spirit of the people' "(p7)

And what is the situation with regards the modern European society?

"The peculiarity of modern European culture, on the other hand, largely due to Roman law and modern natural law doctrines, is that men conceive themselves not just as members of communities but also-and sometimes primarily-as bearers of private rights against the state and possessors of legitimate particular and group interests. In Hegel's view Christianity had equally profound effect on European culture, especially after it had been developed by the Reformation and secularized by the Enlightenment. Under its influence men came to regard themselves as moral agents, acknowledging no higher authority that their own conscience or reason. Hegel calls the first tendency 'particularity' and the second 'subjectivity'; the two together constitute the peculiarly modern and European phenomenon of individualism."(p7)

'Particularity', therefore, is the sphere of 'private right' while 'subjectivity' is the sphere of 'morality'. However, there is also Sittlichkeit. According to Pelczynski, Hegel:

"distinguishes Sittlichkeit from Recht and Moralitat. By abstrakets Recht he means the general principles of law concerning such personal rights as the right to life and property, and various personal liberties...By Moralitat Hegel means the Kantian type of morality in which the value of a man's actions depends on the goodness of his motive, and the conscience of the individual in the last resort determines how he should treat other individuals...Hegel recognizes the validity of both kinds of normative orders in certain limited spheres, but he is convinced that by themselves they are unable to bind individuals into a cohesive and lasting community...Only ethical as opposed to juristic and moralistic ties are capable of forming the basis of a true community...Hegel in fact believes that ethical life, although not always in its fully conscious form, is the actual, operative mode of human conduct, and that abstract right and morality are merely one-sided abstractions into which the critical philosophy of the Enlightenment has dissolved the concrete social ethics."(p9)

What significance does an analysis of these three spheres have for Hegel? To each sphere Hegel assigns its own particular form of freedom. So that:

"In the sphere of right a man is free when he can do what he wants provided he respects the same right in other men, that is, acts within the limits of reciprocity. In the sphere of morality freedom consists in the autonomy of the individual conscience vis-a-vis all the external rules and standards which demand conformity. The highest type of freedom- freedom in the ethical sphere-is the guidance of one's actions by the living, actual principles of one's community, clearly understood and deliberately accepted, and in secure confidence that other community members will act in the same way" (p9)

It seems to me there is a certain degree of tension between Hegel's conceptions of freedom in these different spheres if what Pelczynski has summarized as Hegel's theory is correct. But this is something that must be dealt with when we get to a discussion of the relationship between the 'civil society' and the state and hence Hegel's political philosophy proper.

Now, getting back to Avineri's discussions of Hegel's political economy. Avineri picks up the same spheres mentioned earlier in somewhat different form. According to Avineri, Hegel conceives of freedom as mediated, so much so that his Philosophy of Right has this mediation as its focal point. In this processes of the mediation:

"The stages of this mediation of the will are as follows: (a) the will as immediate-absolute or formal right; (b) the will reflected-subjective morality; (c) the unity of both-ethical life."(p133)

The 'ethical' life itself is divided into:

Here we must again turn to a discussion of Hegel's conception of property but this time as it appears in the Philosophy of Right. And this is the sphere of rights. What is the significance of property for Hegel?! It is surely more than merely property as possession or physical need. In Philosophy of Right:

"Property is not only instrumental; as we have seen in the Realphilosophie, it is a basic requisite for man in his struggle for recognition and realization in the objective world: 'A person must translate his freedom into an external sphere in order to exist as an Idea.' Through property man's existence is recognized by others, since the respect others show to his property by not trespassing on it reflects their acceptance of him as a person. Property is thus an objectification of the self which raises it from the realm of pure subjectivity into the sphere of external existence." (p136)

In Hegel's own words:

"The rationale (Vernungtigkeit) of property is to be found not in the satisfaction of needs but in the suppression (Aufhebung) of the pure subjectivity of personality. In his property a person exists for the first time as reason" (p136)

Hegel adds:

"In property my will is the will of a person; but a person is a unit and so property becomes the personality of this unitary will. Since property is the means whereby I give my will an embodiment, property must also have the character of being 'this' or 'mine'. This is the important doctrine of the necessity of private property."(p136)

Hence, according to Hegel, the existence of property is necessary not merely because of the existence of needs but because it is only in 'my' property that I have my will 'embodied'. This seems to imply that my 'will' is not embodied if I have no property. And a will that is not so 'embodied' is in essence not free. If the latter is a fair evaluation of Hegel's discussion of the essence of free will and property then is it not clear that the person who does not have property is not truly a person and hence not truly free? On one hand, therefore, Hegel defends the right to property on the grounds that it alone embodies personality and hence bestows on the person a right. This concern with property as the embodiment of personal will naturally leads to the idea that the deprivation of property is the deprivation of personal will.

It is interesting to see Hegel make the following comment:

"Of course men are equal, but only qua persons, that is, with respect only to the source from which possession springs; the inference from this is that everyone must have property" (p137)

According to Avineri, Hegel suggest no mechanism that would guarantee such a situation in which everyone would have some property. This seems to me to be a curious idea in Hegel. He argues on one hand that individuals are equal only to the extent that each is the possessor of property. On the other hand all of his remarks we have seen in his earlier writings indicated that the possibility of everyone having property is not strong under the conditions of modern society. The obvious result of the whole situation is that equality applies only to those who have property and hence not to those who do not have any property. One can take a more extreme point of view in interpreting Hegel on this issue and say that since for Hegel personhood is possible only in the possession of property; those who do not have property are not persons in the proper sense and not entitled to the same rights in civil society. I am not sure that this is entirely a fair assessment in the context of Hegel's overall philosophy and hence must postpone a closer consideration of this problem for later time.


From: B Merrill merrillb- at -crisny.org

Dear Peter, From my standpoint, which is both congruent and different from your summary below, what is striking is the initial similarity with the Scottish school.

I see this similarity as embracing the compound of a "system of needs," as well as the particular case that the "system" of justice emerges from the domain of needs, and is then available for our rational apprehension. The prime dissimilarity appears with Hegel's supposition that we arrive at our definitive moral self-consciousness and freedom with our participation in the rational state. I don't see anything like that in Hume and Smith. (Do you?) This then sets up the task of working backwards from state participation to civil society, as a key to our insight into the differences which were already there, lurking, i.e the differences between Hegel's civil society and Smith's commercial society.

In sum, I find they begin at at similar spot, but Hegel's ladder is much longer. Going beyond the state, as well.

What do you mean by "lose that direct connection at the start," below?

(I need to reflect more about your point re the usage of the term "political economy." For starters, I need to learn more about the history of that category.)

Best wishes with your Poughkeepsie mud season... I'm up the Hudson, & it's pretty muddy up here!

Bruce


From: stillman- at -vassar.edu (Peter G. Stillman)

Dear Bruce, I think that is a rather nice summary on your part.

I agree about the consciousness of the whole in Smith and Hume: my sense is that they do not think individuals can / should / will / need to gain a consciousness of the rationality of the system as a whole,though (for Smith) it seems to me that the government [bk V] must, in order to be able to implement the policies he recommends. (I find Sir James Steuart's PRINCIPLES OF POL OECON, 1767, helpful here: he talks of the government as "the stateman," and attributes (or requires) much insight to/from it.)

I did not mean much by "losing connection," except that I think Hegel's (and a lot of the Scottish formulations) keep human needs continually in mind as a central problem of civil society / economic light, but that many economists and political economists get too caught up, too quickly, with exchanges of properties and so, studying exchange etc., forget human needs.

(This may still not make sense. Sorry.)

Hegel-by-HyperText Home Page - at - marxists.org