Hegel's Philosophy of Right
[a]: The Crown - [b]: The Executive - [c]: The Legislature
The constitution is rational in so far as the state inwardly differentiates and determines its activity in accordance with the nature of the concept. The result of this is that each of these powers is in itself the totality of the constitution, because each contains the other moments and has them effective in itself, and because the moments, being expressions of the differentiation of the concept, simply abide in their ideality and constitute nothing but a single individual whole.
Remark: In our day there has come before the public an endless amount of babble about the constitution, as about reason itself, and the stalest babble of all has been produced in Germany, thanks to those who have persuaded themselves that they have the best, or even the sole, understanding of what a constitution is. Elsewhere, particularly in governments, misunderstanding is supposed to reign. And these gentlemen are convinced that they have an unassailable justification for what they say because they claim that religion and piety are the basis of all this shallow thinking of theirs. It is no wonder that this babble has made reasonable men just as sick of the words 'reason', 'enlightenment', right', &c., as of the words 'constitution' and 'freedom', and a man might well be ashamed now to go on discussing the constitution of the state at all! However, we may, at least hope that this surfeit will be effective in producing the general conviction that philosophical knowledge of such topics cannot arise from argumentation, deduction, calculations of purpose and utility, still less from the heart, love, and inspiration, but only from the concept. We may also hope that those who hold that the divine is inconceivable and the knowledge of truth a wild-goose chase will feel themselves bound to refrain from taking part in the discussion. The products of their hearts and their inspirations are either undigested chatter or mere edification, and whatever the worth of these neither can pretend to notice from philosophy.
Amongst current ideas, mention may be made (in connection with § 269) of the necessity for a division of powers within the state. This point is of the highest importance and, if taken in its true sense, may rightly be regarded as the guarantee of public freedom. It is an idea, however, with which the very people who pretend to talk out of their inspiration and love neither have, nor desire to have, any acquaintance, since it is precisely there that the moment of rational determinacy lies. That is to say, the principle of the division of powers contains the essential moment of difference, of rationality realised. But when the abstract Understanding handles it, it reads into it the false doctrine of the absolute self-subsistence of each of the powers against the others, and then one-sidedly interprets their relation to each other as negative, as a mutual restriction. This view implies that the attitude adopted by each power to the others is hostile and apprehensive, as if the others were evils, and that their function is to oppose one another and as a result of this counterpoise to effect an equilibrium on the whole, but never a living unity. It is only the inner self-determination of the concept, not any other consideration, whether of purpose or advantage, that is the absolute source of the division of powers, and in virtue of this alone is the organisation of the state something inherently rational and the image of eternal reason.
How the concept and then, more concretely, how the Idea, determine themselves inwardly and so posit their moments — universality, particularity, and individuality — in abstraction from one another, is discoverable from my logic, though not of course from the logic current elsewhere. To take the merely negative as a starting-point and to exalt to the first place the volition of evil and the mistrust of this volition, and then on the basis of this presupposition slyly to construct dykes whose efficiency simply necessitates corresponding dykes over against them, is characteristic in thought of the negative Understanding and in sentiment of the outlook of the rabble (see § 244).
If the powers (e.g. what are called the 'Executive' and the 'Legislature') become self-subsistent, then as we have recently seen on a grand scale, the destruction of the state is forthwith a fait accompli. Alternatively, if the state is maintained in essentials, it is strife which through the subjection by one power of the others, produces unity at least, however defective, and so secures the bare essential, the maintenance of the state.
Addition: We should desire to have in the state nothing except what is an expression of rationality. The state is the world which mind has made for itself; its march, therefore, is on lines that are fixed and absolute. How often we talk of the wisdom of God in nature! But we are not to assume for that reason that the physical world of nature is a loftier thing than the world of mind. As high as mind stands above nature, so high does the state stand above physical life. Man must therefore venerate the state as a secular deity, and observe that if it is difficult to comprehend nature, it is infinitely harder to understand the state. It is a fact of the highest importance that nowadays we have gained a clear-cut intuition into the state in general and have been so much engaged in discussing and making constitutions. But by getting so far we have not yet settled everything. In addition, it is necessary to bring to bear on a rational topic the reason underlying intuition, to know what the essence of the matter is and to realise that the obvious is not always the essential.
The powers of the state, then, must certainly be distinguished, but each of them 'must' build itself inwardly into a whole and contain in itself the other moments. When we speak of the distinct activities of these powers, we must not slip into the monstrous error of so interpreting their distinction as to suppose that each power should subsist independently in abstraction from the others. The truth is that the powers are to be distinguished only as moments of the concept. If instead they subsist independently in abstraction from one another, then it is as clear as day that two independent units cannot constitute a unity but must of course give rise to strife, whereby either the whole is destroyed or else unity is restored by force. Thus in the French Revolution, the legislative power sometimes engulfed the so-called 'executive', the executive sometimes engulfed the legislative, and in such a case it must be stupid to formulate e.g. the moral demand for harmony.
Leave the thing to the heart if you like and be saved all trouble; but even if ethical feeling is indispensable, it has no right to determine the powers of the state by reference to itself alone. The vital point, then, is that since the fixed characters of the powers are implicitly the whole, so also all the powers as existents constitute the concept as a whole. Mention is usually made of three powers, the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary; of these the first corresponds to universality and the second to particularity, but the judiciary is not the third moment of the concept, since the individuality intrinsic to the concept lies outside these spheres.
The state as a political entity is thus cleft into three substantive divisions:
(a) the power to determine and establish the universal — the Legislature;
(b) the power to subsume single cases and the spheres of particularity under the universal — the Executive;
(c) the power of subjectivity, as the will with the power of ultimate decision — the Crown. In the crown, the different powers are bound into an individual unity which is thus at once the apex and basis of the whole, i.e. of constitutional monarchy.
Remark: The development of the state to constitutional monarchy is the achievement of the modern world, a world in which the substantial Idea has won the infinite form [of subjectivity — see § 144]. The history of this inner deepening of the world mind — or in other words this free maturation in course of which the Idea, realising rationality in the external, releases its moments (and they are only its moments) from itself as totalities, and just for that reason still retains them in the ideal unity of the concept — the history of this genuine formation of ethical life is the content of the whole course of world-history.
The ancient division of constitutions into monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, is based upon the notion of substantial, still undivided, unity, a unity which has not yet come to its inner differentiation (to a matured, internal organisation) and which therefore has not yet attained depth or concrete rationality. From the standpoint of the ancient world, therefore, this division is the true and correct one, since for a unity of that still substantial type, a unity inwardly too immature to have attained its absolutely complete development, difference is essentially an external difference and appears at first as a difference in the number of those in whom that substantial unity is supposed to be immanent. These forms, which on this principle belong to different wholes, are given in limited monarchy the humbler position of moments in a whole. The monarch is a single person; the few come on the scene with the executive, and the many en masse with the legislative. But, as has been indicated purely quantitative distinctions like these are only superficial and do not afford the concept of the thing. Equally inadequate is the mass of contemporary talk about the democratic and aristocratic elements in monarchy, because when the elements specified in such talk are found in a monarchy there is no longer anything democratic or aristocratic about them. There are notions of constitutions in which the state is portrayed from top to bottom as an abstraction which is supposed to rule and command, and how many individuals are at the head of such a state, whether one or a few or all, is a question left undecided and regarded as a matter of indifference. [E.g.:] 'All these forms', says Fichte, ' ... are justified, provided there be an ephorate' (a scheme devised by Fichte to be a counterpoise to the chief power in the state) 'and may ... be the means of introducing universal rights into the state and maintaining them there.' A view of this kind — and the device of the ephorate also — is begotten by the superficial conception of the state to which reference has just been made. It is true enough that in quite simple social conditions these differences of constitutional form have little or no meaning. For instance, in the course of his legislation Moses prescribed that, in the event of his people's desiring a king, its institutions should remain unchanged except for the new requirement that the king should not 'multiply horses to himself ... nor wives ... nor silver and gold'. t Besides, in a sense one may of course say that the Idea too is indifferent to these forms (including monarchy, but only when it is restricted in meaning by being defined as an alternative on a parity with aristocracy and democracy). But the Idea is indifferent to them, not in Fichte's but in the opposite sense, because every one of them is inadequate to it in its rational development (see § 272) and in none of them, taken singly, could the Idea attain its right and its actuality. Consequently, it is quite idle to inquire which of the three is most to be preferred. Such forms must be discussed historically or not at all.
Still, here again, as in so many other places, we must recognise the depth of Montesquieu's insight in his now famous treatment of the basic principles of these forms of government. To recognise the accuracy of his account, however, we must not misunderstand it. As is well known, he held that 'virtue' was the principle of democracy [and rightly], since it is in fact the case that that type of constitution rests on sentiment, i.e. on the purely substantial form in which the rationality of the absolute will still exists in democracy. But Montesquieu goes on to say that in the seventeenth century England provided 'a fine spectacle of the way in which efforts to found a democracy were rendered ineffective by a lack of virtue in the leaders'. And again he adds 'when virtue vanishes from the republic, ambition enters hearts which are capable of it and greed masters everyone ... so that the state beeches everyone's booty and its strength now consists only in the power of a few citizens and the licence of all alike'. These quotations call for the comment that in more mature social conditions and when the powers of particularity have developed and become free, a form of rational law other than the form of sentiment is required, because virtue in the heads of the state is not enough if the state as a whole is to gain the power to resist disruption and to bestow on the powers of particularity, now become mature, both their positive and their negative rights. Similarly, we must remove the misunderstanding of supposing that because the sentiment of virtue is the substantial form of a democratic republic, it is evidently superfluous in monarchy or even absent from it altogether, and, finally, we may not suppose that there is an opposition and an incompatibility between virtue and the legally determinate agency of a state whose organisation is fully articulated.
The fact that 'moderation' is cited as the principle of aristocracy implies the beginning at this point of a divorce between public authority and private interest. And yet at the same time these touch each other so directly that this constitution by its very nature stands on the verge of lapsing forthwith into tyranny or anarchy — the harshest of political conditions — and so into self-annihilation. See Roman history, for example.
The fact that Montesquieu discerns 'honour' as the principle of monarchy at once makes it clear that by 'monarchy' he understands, not the patriarchal or any ancient type, nor, on the other hand, the type organised into an objective constitution, but only feudal monarchy, the type in which the relationships recognised in its constitutional law are crystallised into the rights of private property and the privileges of individuals and Corporations. In this type of constitution, political life rests on privileged persons and a great part of what must be done for the maintenance of the state is settled at their pleasure. The result is that their services are the objects not of duty but only of ideas and opinions. Thus it is not duty but only honour which holds the state together.
Another question readily presents itself here: 'Who is to frame the constitution?' This question seems clear, but closer inspection shows at once that it is meaningless, for it presupposes that there is no constitution there, but only an agglomeration of atomic individuals. How an agglomeration of individuals could acquire a constitution, whether automatically or by someone's aid, whether as a present or by force or by thought, it would have to be allowed to settle for itself, since with an agglomeration the concept has nothing to do. But if the question presupposes an already existent constitution, then it is not about framing, but only about altering the constitution, and the very presupposition of a constitution directly implies that its alteration may come about only by constitutional means. In any case, however, it is absolutely essential that the constitution should not be regarded as something made, even though it has come into being in time. It must be treated rather as something simply existent in and by itself, as divine therefore, and constant, and so as exalted above the sphere of things that are made.
Addition: The principle of the modern world is freedom of subjectivity, the principle that all the essential factors present in the intellectual whole are now coming into their right in the course of their development. Starting from this point of view, we can hardly raise the idle question: Which is the better form of government, monarchy or democracy? We may only say that all constitutional forms are one-sided unless they can sustain in themselves the principle of free subjectivity and know how to correspond with a matured rationality.
Mind is actual only as that which it knows itself to be, and in the state, as the mind of a nation, is both the law permeating all relationships within the state and also at the same time the manners and consciousness of its citizens. It follows, therefore, that the constitution of any given nation depends in general on the character and development of its self-consciousness. In its self-consciousness its subjective freedom is rooted and so, therefore, is the actuality of its constitution.
Remark: The proposal to give a constitution — even one more or less rational in content — to a nation a priori would be a happy thought overlooking precisely that factor in a constitution which makes it more than an ens rationis. Hence every nation has the constitution appropriate to it and suitable for it.
Addition: The state in its constitution must permeate all relationships within the state. Napoleon, for instance, wished to give the Spaniards a constitution a priori, but the project turned out badly enough. A constitution is not just something manufactured; it is the work of centuries, it is the Idea, the consciousness of rationality so far as that consciousness is developed in a particular nation. No constitution, therefore, is just the creation of its subjects. What Napoleon gave to the Spaniards was more rational than what they had before, and yet they recoiled from it as from something alien, because they were not yet educated up to its level. A nation's constitution must embody its feeling for its rights and its position, otherwise there may be a constitution there in an external way, but it is meaningless and valueless. Isolated individuals may often feel the need and the longing for a better constitution, but it is quite another thing, and one that does not arise till later, for the mass of the people to be animated by such an idea. The principle of morality, of the inner life of Socrates, was a necessary product of his age, but time was required before it could become part and parcel of the self-consciousness of everyone.
The power of the crown contains in itself the three moments of the whole (see § 272), viz. [a] the universality of the constitution and the laws; [b] counsel, which refers the particular to the universal; and [c] the moment of ultimate decision, as the self-determination to which everything else reverts and from which everything else derives the beginning of its actuality. This absolute self-determination constitutes the distinctive principle of the power of the crown as such, and with this principle our exposition is to begin.
Addition: We begin with the power of the crown, i.e. with the moment of individuality, since this includes the state's three moments as a totality in itself. The ego, that is to say, is at once the most individual thing and the most universal. Prima facie, individuality occurs in nature too, but reality, the opposite of ideality, and reciprocal externality are not the same as self-enclosed existence. On the contrary, in nature the various individual things subsist alongside one another. In mind, on the other hand, variety exists only as something ideal and as a unity. The state, then, as something mental, is the exhibition of all its moments, but individuality is at the same time the bearer of its soul and its life-giving principle, i.e. the sovereignty which contains all differences in itself.
(1) The fundamental characteristic of the state as a political entity is the substantial unity, i.e. the ideality, of its moments.
[a] In this unity, the particular powers and their activities are dissolved and yet retained. They are retained, however, only in the sense that their authority is no independent one but only one of the order and breadth determined by the Idea of the whole; from its might they originate, and they are its flexible limbs while it is their single self.
Addition: Much the same thing as this ideality of the moments in the state occurs with life in the physical organism. Life is present in every cell. There is only one life in all the cells and nothing withstands it. Separated from that life, every cell dies. This is the same as the ideality of every single class, power, and Corporation as soon as they have the impulse to subsist and be independent. It is with them as it is with the belly in the organism. It, too, asserts its independence, but at the same time its independence is set aside and it is sacrificed and absorbed into the whole.
[b] The particular activities and agencies of the state are its essential moments and therefore are proper to it. The individual functionaries and agents are attached to their office not on the strength of their immediate personality, but only on the strength of their universal and objective qualities. Hence it is in an external and contingent way that these offices are linked with particular persons, and therefore the functions and powers of the state cannot be private property.
Addition: The business of the state is in the hands of individuals. But their authority to conduct its affairs is based not on their birth but on their objective qualities. Ability, skill, character, all belong to a man in his particular capacity. He must be educated and be trained to a particular task. Hence an office may not be saleable or hereditary. In France, seats in parliament were formerly saleable, and in the English army commissions up to a certain rank are saleable to this day. This saleability of office, however, was or is still connected with the medieval constitution of certain states, and such constitutions are nowadays gradually disappearing.
These two points [a] and [b] constitute the sovereignty of the state. That is to say, sovereignty depends on the fact that the particular functions and powers of the state are not self-subsistent or firmly grounded either on their own account or in the particular will of the individual functionaries, but have their roots ultimately in the unity of the state as their single self.
Remark: This is the sovereignty of the state at home. Sovereignty has another side, i.e. sovereignty vis-à-vis foreign states, on which see below.
In feudal times, the state was certainly sovereign vis-à-vis other states; at home however, not only was the monarch not sovereign at all, but the state itself was not sovereign either. For one thing, the particular functions and powers of the state and civil society were arranged (compare Remark to § 273) into independent Corporations and societies, so that the state as a whole was rather an aggregate than an organism; and, for another thing, office was the private property of individuals, and hence what they were to do in their public capacity was left to their own opinion and caprice.
The idealism which constitutes sovereignty is the same characteristic as that in accordance with which the so-called 'parts' of an animal organism are not parts but members, moments in an organ whose isolation and independence spell disease. The principle here is the same as that which came before us (see §7) in the abstract concept of the will (see Remark to § 279) as self-related negativity, and therefore as the universality of the will determining itself to individuality and so cancelling all particularity and determinacy, as the absolute self-determining ground of all volition. To understand this, one must have mastered the whole conception of the substance and genuine subjectivity of the concept.
The fact that the sovereignty of the state is the ideality of all particular authorities within it gives rise to the easy and also very common misunderstanding that this ideality is only might and pure arbitrariness ; while 'sovereignty' is a synonym for 'despotism'. But despotism means any state of affairs where law has disappeared and where the particular will as such, whether of a monarch or a mob (ochlocracy), counts as law; or rather takes the place of law; while it is precisely in legal, constitutional, government that sovereignty is to be found as the moment of ideality — the ideality of the particular spheres and functions. That is to say, sovereignty brings it about that each of these spheres is a thing independent, self-subsistent in its aims and modes of working, something immersed solely in itself, but that instead, even in these aims and modes of working, each is determined by and dependent on the aim of the whole (the aim which has been denominated in general terms by the rather vague expression 'welfare of the state').
This ideality manifests itself in a twofold way:
(i) In times of peace, the particular spheres and functions pursue the path of satisfying their particular aims and minding their own business, and it is in part only by way of the unconscious necessity of the thing that their self-seeking is turned into a contribution to reciprocal support and to the support of the whole (see § 183). In part, however, it is by the direct influence of higher authority that they are not only continually brought back to the aims of the whole and restricted accordingly (see § 289), but are also constrained to perform direct services for the support of the whole.
(ii) In a situation of exigency, however, whether in home or foreign affairs, the organism of which these particular spheres are members fuses into the single concept of sovereignty. The sovereign is entrusted with the salvation of the state at the sacrifice of these particular authorities whose powers are valid at other times, and it is then that that ideality comes into its proper actuality (see § 321).
(2) Sovereignty, at first simply the universal thought of this ideality, comes into existence only as subjectivity sure of itself, as the will's abstract and to that extent ungrounded self-determination in which finality of decision is rooted. This is the strictly individual aspect of the state, and in virtue of this alone is the state one. The truth of subjectivity, however, is attained only in a subject, and the truth of personality only in a person; and in a constitution which has become mature as a realisation of rationality, each of the three moments of the concept has its explicitly actual and separate formations. Hence this absolutely decisive moment of the whole is not individuality in general, but a single individual, the monarch.
Remark: The immanent development of a science, the derivations of its entire content from the concept in its simplicity (a science otherwise derived, whatever its merit, does not deserve the name of a philosophical science) exhibits this peculiarity, that one and the same concept — the will in this instance — which begins by being abstract (because it is at the beginning), maintains its identity even while it consolidates its specific determinations, and that too solely by its own activity, and in this way gains a concrete content. Hence it is the basic moment of personality, abstract at the start in immediate rights, which has matured itself through its various forms of subjectivity, and now — at the stage of absolute rights, of the state, of the completely concrete objectivity of the will — has become the personality of the state, its certainty of itself. This last reabsorbs all particularity into its single self, cuts short the weighing of pros and cons between which it lets itself oscillate perpetually now this way and now that, and by saying 'I will' makes its decision and so inaugurates all activity and actuality.
Further, however, personality, like subjectivity in general, as infinitely self-related, has its truth (to be precise, its most elementary, immediate, truth) only in a person, in a subject existing 'for' himself, and what exists 'for' itself is just simply a unit. It is only as a person, the monarch, that the personality of the state is actual. Personality expresses the concept as such; but the person enshrines the actuality of the concept, and only when the concept is determined as person is it the Idea or truth. A so-called 'artificial person', be it a society, a community, or a family, however inherently concrete it may be, contains personality only abstractly, as one moment of itself. In an 'artificial person', personality has not achieved its true mode of existence. The state, however, is precisely this totality in which the moments of the concept have attained the actuality correspondent to their degree of truth. All these categories, both in themselves and in their external formations, have been discussed in the whole course of this treatise. They are repeated here, however, because while their existence in their particular external formations is readily granted, it does not follow at all that they are recognised and apprehended again when they appear in their true place, not isolated, but in their truth as moments of the Idea.
The conception of the monarch is therefore of all conceptions the hardest for ratiocination, i.e. for the method of reflection employed by the Understanding. This method refuses to move beyond isolated categories and hence here again knows only raisonnement, finite points of view, and deductive argumentation. Consequently it exhibits the dignity of the monarch as something deduced, not only in its form, but in its essence. The truth is, however, that to be something not deduced but purely self-originating is precisely the conception of monarchy. Akin, then, to this reasoning is the idea of treating the monarch's right as grounded in the authority of God, since it is in its divinity that its unconditional character is contained. We are familiar, however, with the misunderstandings connected with this idea, and it is precisely this 'divine' element which it is the task of a philosophic treatment to Comprehend.
We may speak of the 'sovereignty of the people' in the sense that any people whatever is self-subsistent vis-á-vis other peoples, and constitutes a state of its own, like the British people for instance. But the peoples of England, Scotland, or Ireland, or the peoples of Venice, Genoa, Ceylon, &c., are not sovereign peoples at all now that they have ceased to have rulers or supreme governments of their own.
We may also speak of sovereignty in home affairs residing in the people, provided that we are speaking generally about the whole state and meaning only what was shown above (see §§ 277, 278), namely that it is to the state that sovereignty belongs.
The usual sense, however, in which men have recently begun to speak of the 'sovereignty of the people' is that it is something opposed to the sovereignty existent in the monarch. So opposed to the sovereignty of the monarch, the sovereignty of the people is one of the confused notions based on the wild idea of the 'people'. Taken without its monarch and the articulation of the whole which is the indispensable and direct concomitant of monarchy, the people is a formless mass and no longer a state. It lacks every one of those determinate characteristics — sovereignty, government, judges, magistrates, class-divisions, &c., — which are to be found only in a whole which is inwardly organised. By the very emergence into a people's life of moments of this kind which have a bearing on an organisation, on political life, a people ceases to be that indeterminate abstraction which, when represented in a quite general way, is called the 'people'.
If by 'sovereignty of the people' is understood a republican form of government, or to speak more specifically (since under 'republic' are comprised all sorts of other mixed forms of government, which are purely empirical, let alone irrelevant in a philosophical treatise) a democratic form, then all that is needed in reply has been said already (in the Remark to § 273); and besides, such a notion cannot be further discussed in face of the Idea of the state in its full development.
If the 'people' is represented neither as a patriarchal clan, nor as living under the simple conditions which make democracy or aristocracy possible as forms of government (see Remark to § 273), — nor as living under some other unorganised and haphazard conditions, but instead as an inwardly developed, genuinely organic, totality, then sovereignty is there as the personality of the whole, and this personality is there, in the real existence adequate to its concept, as the person of the monarch.
At the stage at which constitutions are divided, as above mentioned, into democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy, the point of view taken is that of a still substantial unity, abiding in itself, without having yet embarked on its infinite differentiation and the plumbing of its own depths. At that stage, the moment of the final, self-determining, decision of the will does not come on the scene explicitly in its own proper actuality as an organic moment immanent in the state. None the less, even in those comparatively immature constitutional forms, there must always be individuals at the head. Leaders must either be available already, as they are in monarchies of that type, or, as happens in aristocracies, but more particularly in democracies, they may rise to the top, as statesmen or generals, by chance and in accordance with the particular needs of the hour. This must happen, since everything done and everything actual is inaugurated and brought to completion by the single decisive act of a leader. But comprised in a union of powers which remains undifferentiated, this subjectivity of decision is inevitably either contingent in its origin and appearance, or else is in one way or another subordinate to something else. Hence in such states, the power of the leaders was conditioned, and only in something beyond them could there be found a pure unambiguous decision, a fatum, determining affairs from without. As a moment of the Idea, this decision had to come into existence, though rooted in something outside the circle of human freedom with which the state is concerned. Herein lies the origin of the need for deriving the last word on great events and important affairs of state from oracles, a 'divine sign' (in the case of Socrates), the entrails of animals, the feeding and flight of birds, &c. It was when men had not yet plumbed the depths of self-consciousness or risen out of their undifferentiated unity of substance to their independence that they lacked strength to look within their own being for the final word.
In the 'divine sign' of Socrates (compare Remark to § 138) we see the will which formerly had simply transferred itself beyond itself now beginning to apply itself to itself and so to recognise its own inward nature. This is the beginning of a self-knowing and so of a genuine freedom. This realised freedom of the Idea consists precisely in giving to each of the moments of rationality its own self-conscious actuality here and now. Hence it is this freedom which makes the ultimate self-determining certitude — the culmination of the concept of the will — the function of a single consciousness. This ultimate self-determination, however, can fall within the sphere of human freedom only in so far as it has the position of a pinnacle, explicitly distinct from, and raised above, all that is particular and conditional, for only so is it actual in a way adequate to its concept.
Addition: In the organisation of the state — which here means in constitutional monarchy — we must have nothing before our minds except the inherent necessity of the Idea. All other points of view must vanish. The state must be treated as a great architectonic structure, as a hieroglyph of the reason which reveals itself in actuality. Everything to do with mere utility, externality, and so forth, must be eliminated from the philosophical treatment of the subject. Now our ordinary ideas can quite well grasp the conception of the state as a self-determining and completely sovereign will, as final decision. What is more difficult is to apprehend this 'I will' as a person. To do so is not to say that the monarch may act capriciously. As a matter of fact, he is bound by the concrete decisions of his counsellors, and if the constitution is stable, he has often no more to do than sign his name. But this name is important. It is the last word beyond which it is impossible to go. It might be said that an organic, articulated, constitution was present even in the beautiful democracy of Athens, and yet we cannot help noticing that the Greeks derived their final decisions from the observation of quite external phenomena such as oracles, the entrails of sacrificial animals, and the flight of birds. They treated nature as a power which in those ways revealed and expressed what was good for men. At that time, self-consciousness had not yet advanced to the abstraction of subjectivity, not even so far as to understand that, when a decision is to be made, an 'I will' must be pronounced by man himself. This 'I will' constitutes the great difference between the ancient world and the modern, and in the great edifice of the state it must therefore have its appropriate objective existence. Unfortunately, however, this requirement is regarded as only external and optional.
(3) This ultimate self in which the will of the state is concentrated is, when thus taken in abstraction, a single self and therefore is immediate individuality. Hence its 'natural' character is implied in its very conception. The monarch, therefore, is essentially characterised as this individual, in abstraction from all his other characteristics, and this individual is raised to the dignity of monarchy in an immediate, natural, fashion, i.e. through his birth in the course of nature.
Remark: This transition of the concept of pure self-determination into the immediacy of being and so into the realm of nature is of a purely speculative character, and apprehension of it therefore belongs to logic. Moreover, this transition is on the whole the same as that familiar to us in the nature of willing, and there the process is to translate something from subjectivity (i.e. some purpose held before the mind) into existence (see § 8). But the proper form of the Idea and of the transition here under consideration is the immediate conversion of the pure self-determination of the will (i.e. of the simple concept itself) into a single and natural existent without the mediation of a particular content (like a purpose in the case of action).
In the so-called 'ontological' proof of the existence of God, we have the same conversion of the absolute concept into existence. This conversion has constituted the depth of the Idea in the modern world, although recently it has been declared inconceivable, with the result that knowledge of truth has been renounced, since truth is simply the unity of concept and existence (see § 23). Since the Understanding has no inner consciousness of this unity and refuses to move beyond the separation of these two moments of the truth, it may perhaps, so far as God is concerned, still permit a 'faith' in this unity. But since the idea of the monarch is regarded as being quite familiar to ordinary consciousness, the Understanding clings here all the more tenaciously to its separatism and the conclusions which its astute ratiocination deduces therefrom. As a result, it denies that the moment of ultimate decision in the state is linked implicitly and actually (i.e. in the rational concept) with the immediate birthright of the monarch. consequently it infers, first, that this link is a matter of accident, and further — since it has claimed that the absolute diversity of these moments is the rational thing — that such a link is irrational, and then there follow the other deductions disruptive of the Idea of the state.
Addition: It is often alleged against monarchy that it makes the welfare of the state dependent on chance, for, it is urged, the monarch may be ill-educated, he may perhaps be unworthy of the highest position in the state, and it is senseless that such a state of affairs should exist because it is supposed to be rational. But all this rests on a presupposition which is nugatory, namely that everything depends on the monarch's particular character. In a completely organised state, it is only a question of the culminating point of formal decision (and a natural bulwark against passion. It is wrong therefore to demand objective qualities in a monarch); he has only to say 'yes' and dot the 'i', because the throne should be such that the significant thing in its holder is not his particular make-up. (Monarchy in this sense is rational because it corresponds with the concept, but since this is hard to grasp, we often fail to notice the rationality of monarchy. Monarchy must be inherently stable and) whatever else the monarch may have in addition to this power of final decision is part and parcel of his private character and should be of no consequence. Of course there may be circumstances in which it is this private character alone which has prominence, but in that event the state is either not fully developed, or else is badly constructed. In a well-organised monarchy, the objective aspect belongs to law alone, and the monarch's part is merely to set to the law the subjective 'I will'.
Both moments in their undivided unity — (a) the will's ultimate ungrounded self, and (b) therefore its similarly ungrounded objective existence (existence being the category which is at home in nature) — constitute the Idea of something against which caprice is powerless, the 'majesty' of the monarch. In this unity lies the actual unity of the state, and it is only through this, its inward and outward immediacy, that the unity of the state is saved from the risk of being drawn down into the sphere of particularity and its caprices, ends, and opinions, and saved too from the war of factions round the throne and from the enfeeblement and overthrow of the power of the state.
Remark: The rights of birth and inheritance constitute the basis of legitimacy, the basis of a right not purely positive but contained in the Idea.
If succession to the throne is rigidly determined, i.e. if it is hereditary, then faction is obviated at a demise of the crown; this is one aspect of hereditary succession and it has long been rightly stressed as a point in its favour. This aspect, however, is only consequential, and to make it the reason for hereditary succession is to drag down the majesty of the throne into the sphere of argumentation, to ignore its true character as ungrounded immediacy and ultimate inwardness, and to base it not on the Idea of the state immanent within it, but on something external to itself, on some extraneous notion such as the 'welfare of the state' or the 'welfare of the People'. Once it has been so based, its hereditary character may of course be deduced by the use of media termini. But other media termini are equally available, and so therefore are different conclusions, and it is only too well known what conclusions have in fact been drawn from this 'welfare of the people' (salut du people). Hence the majesty of the monarch is a topic for thoughtful treatment by philosophy alone, since every method of inquiry, other than the speculative method of the infinite Idea which is purely self-grounded, annuls the nature of majesty altogether.
An elective monarchy seems of course to be the most natural idea, i.e. the idea which superficial thinking finds handiest. Because it is the concerns and interests of his people for which a monarch has to provide, so the argument runs, it must be left to the people to entrust with its welfare whomsoever it pleases, and only with the grant of this trust does his right to rule arise. This view, like the notion of the monarch as the highest executive official in the state, or the notion of a contractual relation between him and his people, &c., &c., is grounded on the will interpreted as the whim, opinion, and caprice of the Many. A will of this character counts as the first thing in civil society (as was pointed out long ago) or rather it tries to count as the one thing there but it is not the guiding principle of the family, still less of the state, and in short it stands opposed to the Idea of ethical life.
It is truer to say that elective monarchy is the worst of institutions, and its results suffice to reveal this to ratiocination. To ratiocination, however, these results have the appearance of something merely possible and probable, though they are in fact inherent in the very essence of this institution. In an elective monarchy, I mean, the nature of the relation between king and people implies that the ultimate decision is left with the particular will, and hence the constitution becomes a Compact of Election, i.e. a surrender of the power of the state at the discretion of the particular will. The result of this is that the particular offices of state turn into private property, the sovereignty of the state is enfeebled and lost, and finally the state disintegrates within and is overthrown from without.
Addition: If we are to grasp the Idea of the monarch, we cannot be content with saying that God has appointed kings to rule over us, since God has made everything, even the worst of things. The point of view of utility does not get us very far either, and it is always possible to point out counterbalancing disadvantages. Still less does it help to regard monarchy as a positive right. That I should hold property is necessary, but my holding of this particular property is contingent; and in the same way, the right that there must be one man at the head of affairs seems contingent too if it is treated as abstract and as posited. This right, however, is inevitably present both as a felt want and as a requirement of the situation. Monarchs are not exactly distinguished for bodily prowess or intellectual gifts, and yet millions submit to their rule. Now to say that men allow themselves to be ruled counter to their own interests, ends, and intentions is preposterous. Men are not so stupid. It is their need, it is the inner might of the Idea, which, even against what they appear to think, constrains them to obedience and keeps them in that relation.
If then the monarch comes on the scene as the head and a part of the constitution, we are compelled to hold that there is no constitutional identity between a conquered people and its prince. A rebellion in a province conquered in war is a different thing from a rising in a well-organised state. It is not against their prince that the conquered are in rebellion, and they are committing no crime against the state, because their connection with their master is not a connection within the Idea or one within the inner necessity of the constitution. In such a case, there is only a contract, no political tie. Je ne suis pas votre prince, je suis votre maître, Napoleon retorted to the envoys at Erfurt.
The right to pardon criminals arises from the sovereignty of the monarch, since it is this alone which is empowered to actualise mind's power of making undone what has been done and wiping out a crime by forgiving and forgetting it.
Remark: The right of pardon is one of the highest recognitions of the majesty of mind. Moreover it is one of those cases where a category which belongs to a higher sphere is applied to or reflected in the sphere below. Applications of higher categories to a lower sphere, however, concern the particular science which has to handle its subject-matter in all its empirical details (see the second footnote to the Remark to § 270). Another instance of the same kind of thing is the subsumption under the concept of crime (which came before us earlier — see §§ 95 - 102) of injuries against the state in general, or against the sovereignty, majesty, and person of the prince. In fact these acquire the character of crime of the worst kind, requiring a special procedure, &c.
Addition: Pardon is the remission of punishment, but it does not annul the law (Recht). On the contrary, the law stands and the pardoned man remains a criminal as before. Pardon does not mean that he has not committed a crime. This annulment of punishment may take place through religion, since something done may by spirit (Geist) be made undone in spirit. But the power to accomplish this on earth resides in the king's majesty alone and must belong solely to his self-determined decision.
The second moment in the power of the crown is the moment of particularity, or the moment of a determinate content and its subsumption under the universal. When this acquires a special objective existence, it becomes the supreme council and the individuals who compose it. They bring before the monarch for his decision the content of current affairs of state or the legal provisions required to meet existing needs, together with their objective aspects, i.e. the grounds on which decision is to be based, the relative laws, circumstances, &c. The individuals who discharge these duties are in direct contact with the person of the monarch and therefore their choice and dismissal alike rest with his unrestricted caprice.
It is only for the objective side of decision, i.e. for knowledge of the problem and the attendant circumstances, and for the legal and other reasons which determine its solution, that men are answerable; in other words, it is these alone which are capable of objective proof. It is for this reason that these may fall within the province of a council which is distinct from the personal will of the monarch as such. Hence it is only councils or their individual members that are made answerable. The personal majesty of the monarch, on the other hand, as the final subjectivity of decision, is above all answerability for acts of government.
The third moment in the power of the crown concerns the absolute universality which subsists subjectively in the conscience of the monarch and objectively in the whole of the constitution and the laws. Hence the power of the Crown presupposes the other moments in the state just as it is presupposed by each of them.
The objective guarantee of the power of the crown, of the hereditary right of succession to the throne, and so forth, consists in the fact that just as monarchy has its own actuality in distinction from that of the other rationally determined moments in the state, so these others explicitly possess the rights and duties appropriate to their own character. In the rational organism of the state, each member, by maintaining itself in its own position, eo ipso maintains the others in theirs.
Remark: One of the results of more recent history is the development of a monarchical constitution with succession to the throne firmly fixed on hereditary principles in accordance with primogeniture. With this development, monarchy has been brought back to the patriarchal principle in which it had its historical origin, but its determinate character is now higher, because the monarch is the absolute apex of an organically developed state. This historical result is of the utmost importance for public freedom and for rationality in the constitution, but, as was remarked above, it is often grossly misunderstood despite the respect paid to it.
The history of despotisms, as of the now obsolete, purely feudal, monarchies, is a tale of the vicissitudes of revolt, monarchical tyranny, civil war, the ruin of princes of the blood and whole dynasties, and, consequentially the general devastation and overthrow of the state in both its home and foreign concerns. This is all due to the fact that, in monarchies of that type, the division of the business of the state is purely mechanical, the various sections being merely handed over to pashas, vassals, &c. The difference between the departments is simply one of greater or lesser power instead of being one of form and specific character. Hence each department maintains itself and in doing so is productive only of itself and not of the others at the same time; each is independent and autonomous and completely incorporates in itself all the moments of the concept. When there is an organic relation subsisting between members, not parts, then each member by fulfilling the functions of its own sphere is eo ipso maintaining the others; what each fundamentally aims at and achieves in maintaining itself is the maintenance of the others.
The guarantees in question here for the maintenance of the succession to the throne or for the power of the crown generally, or for justice, public freedom, &c., are modes of securing these things by means of institutions. For subjective guarantees we may look to the affection of the people, to character., oaths of allegiance, power, and so forth, but, when the constitution is being discussed, it is only objective guarantees that are relevant. And such guarantees are institutions, i.e. mutually conditioning moments, organically interconnected. Hence public freedom in general and an hereditary monarchy guarantee each other; they stand or fall together of necessity, because public freedom means a rational constitution, while the hereditary character of the power of the crown is, as has been shown, the moment lying in the concept of that power.
There is a distinction between the monarch's decision and their execution and application, or in general between his decisions and the continued execution or maintenance of past decisions, existing laws, regulations, organisations for the securing of common ends, and so forth. This task of merely subsuming the particular under the universal is comprised in the executive power, which also includes the powers of the judiciary and the police. The latter have a more immediate bearing on the particular concerns of civil society and they make the universal interest authoritative over its particular aims.
Particular interests which are common to everyone fall within civil society and lie outside the absolutely universal interest of the state proper (see § 256). The administration of these is in the hands of Corporations (see § 251), commercial and professional as well as municipal, and their officials, directors, managers, and the like. It is the business of these officials to manage the private property and interests of these particular spheres and, from that point of view, their authority rests on the confidence of their commonalties and professional equals. On the other hand, however, these circles of particular interests must be subordinated to the higher interests of the state, and hence the filling of positions of responsibility in Corporations, &c., will generally be effected by a mixture of popular election by those interested with appointment and ratification by higher authority.
The maintenance of the state's universal interest, and of legality, in this sphere of particular rights, and the work of bringing these rights back to the universal, require to be superintended by holders of the executive power, by (a) the executive civil servants, and (b) the higher advisory officials (who are organised into committees). These converge in their supreme heads who are in direct contact with the monarch.
Remark: Just as civil society is the battlefield where everyone's individual private interest meets everyone else's, so here we have the struggle (a) of private interests against particular matters of common concern and (b) of both of these together against the organisation of the state and its higher outlook. At the same time the corporation mind, engendered when the particular spheres gain their title to rights, is now inwardly converted into the mind of the state, since it finds in the state the means of maintaining its particular ends. This is the secret of the patriotism of the citizens in the sense that they know the state as their substance, because it is the state that maintains their particular spheres of interest together with the title, authority, and welfare of these. In the corporation mind the rooting of the particular in the universal is directly entailed, and for this reason it is in that mind that the depth and strength which the state possesses in sentiment is seated.
The administration of a Corporation's business by its own officials is frequently clumsy, because although they keep before their minds and are acquainted with its special interests and affairs, they have a far less complete appreciation of the connection of those affairs with more remote conditions and the outlook of the state. In addition, other circumstances contribute to the same result, e.g. close private relationships and other factors putting officials on a footing of equality with those who should be their subordinates, the rather numerous ways in which officials lack independence, and so on. This sphere of private interests, however, may be regarded as the one left to the moment of formal freedom, the one which affords a playground for personal knowledge, personal decisions and their execution, petty passions and conceits. This is all the more permissible, the more trivial, from the point of view of the more universal affairs of state, is the intrinsic worth of the business which in this way comes to ruin or is managed less well or more laboriously, &c. And further, it is all the more permissible, the more this laborious or foolish management of such trivial affairs stands in direct relation with the self-satisfaction and vanity derived therefrom.
Division of labour (see § 198) occurs in the business of the executive also. For this reason, the organisation of officials has the abstract though difficult task of so arranging that (a) civil life shall be governed in a concrete manner from below where it is concrete, but that (b) none the less the business of government shall be divided into its abstract branches manned by special officials as different centres of administration, and further that (c) the operations of these various departments shall converge again when they are directed on civil life from above, in the same way as they converge into a general supervision in the supreme executive.
Addition: The point of special importance in the executive is the division of functions. The executive is concerned with the transition from the universal to the particular and the individual, and its functions must be divided in accordance with the differences between its branches. The difficulty, however, is that these different branches meet again at both the top and the bottom. The police and the judiciary, for instance, move at right angles to one another, but in each particular case they coincide again. The usual expedient adopted to meet this difficulty is to appoint a Chancellor, a Prime Minister, or a Président du Conseil des Ministres to unify control at the top. But the result of this is that once more everything may have its source in the Minister's power, and the business of the state is, as we say, centralised. This entails the maximum of simplification, speed, and efficiency in meeting state requirements. A system of this kind was introduced by the French revolutionaries, elaborated by Napoleon, and still exists in France today. On the other hand, France lacks Corporations and local government, i.e. associations wherein particular and universal interests meet. It is true that these associations won too great a measure of self-subsistence in the Middle Ages, when they were states within states and obstinately persisted in behaving like independent corporate bodies. But while that should not be allowed to happen, we may none the less affirm that the proper strength of the state lies in these associations. In them the executive meets with legitimate interests which it must respect, and since the administration cannot be other than helpful to such interests, though it must also supervise them, the individual finds protection in the exercise of his rights and so links his private interest with the maintenance of the whole. For some time past organisations have been framed with a view to controlling these particular spheres from above, and effort has chiefly been expended on organisations of that type, while the lower classes, the mass of the population, have been left more or less unorganised. And yet it is of the utmost importance that the masses should be organised, because only so do they become mighty and powerful. Otherwise they are nothing but a heap, an aggregate of atomic units. Only when the particular associations are organised members of the state are they possessed of legitimate power.
The nature of the executive functions is that they are objective and that in their substance they have been explicitly fixed by previous decisions (see § 287); these functions have to be fulfilled and carried out by individuals. Between an individual and his office there is no immediate natural link. Hence individuals are not appointed to office on account of their birth or native personal gifts. The objective factor in their appointment is knowledge and proof of ability. Such proof guarantees that the state will get what it requires; and since it is the sole condition of appointment, it also guarantees to every citizen the chance of joining the class of civil servants.
Since the objective qualification for the civil service is not genius (as it is for work as an artist, for example), there is of necessity an indefinite plurality of eligible candidates whose relative excellence is not determinable with absolute precision. The selection of one of the candidates, his nomination to office, and the grant to him of full authority to transact public business — all this, as the linking of two things, a man and his office, which in relation to each other must always be fortuitous, is the subjective aspect of election to office, and it must lie with the crown as the power in the state which is sovereign and has the last word.
The particular public functions which the monarch entrusts to officials constitute one part of the objective aspect of the sovereignty residing in the crown. Their specific discrimination is therefore given in the nature of the thing. And while the actions of the officials are the fulfilment of their duty, their office is also a right exempt from contingency.
Once an individual has been appointed to his official position by the sovereign's act (see § 292), the tenure of his post is conditional on his fulfilling its duties. Such fulfilment is the very essence of his appointment, and it is only consequential that he finds in his office his livelihood and the assured satisfaction of his particular interests (see § 264), and further that his external circumstances and his official work are freed from other kinds of subjective dependence and influence.
Remark: The state does not count on optional, discretionary, services (e.g. on justice administered by knights errant). It is just because such services are optional and discretionary that the state cannot rely on them, for casual servants may fail for private reasons to fulfil their duties completely, or they may arbitrarily decide not to fulfil them at all but pursue their private ends instead. The opposite extreme to a knight errant, so far as the service of the state goes, would be an official who clung to his office purely and simply to make a living without any real sense of duty and so without any real right to go on holding it.
What the service of the state really requires is that men shall forgo the selfish and capricious satisfaction of their subjective ends; by this very sacrifice, they acquire the right to find their satisfaction in, but only in, the dutiful discharge of their public functions. In this fact, so far as public business is concerned, there lies the link between universal and particular interests which constitutes both the concept of the state and its inner stability (see § 260).
It follows that a man's tenure of his civil service post is not contractual (see § 75), although his appointment involves a consent and an undertaking on both sides. A civil servant is not appointed, like an agent, to perform a single casual act of service; on the contrary, he concentrates his main interests (not only his particular interests but his mental interests also) on his relation to his work. Similarly, the work imposed upon him and entrusted to him is not merely a particular thing, external in character; the value of such a thing is something inward and therefore distinct from its outward character, so that it is in no way impaired if what has been stipulated is not fulfilled (see § 77). The work of a civil servant, however, is as such a value in and for itself. Hence the wrong committed through its non-performance, or positive mis-performance (i.e. through an action contrary to official duty, and both of these are of that type), is an infringement of the universal content itself (i.e. is a negatively infinite judgement — see § 95) and so is a trespass or even a crime.
The assured satisfaction of particular needs removes the external compulsion which may tempt a man to seek ways and means of satisfying them at the expense of his official duties. Those who are entrusted with affairs of state find in its universal power the protection they need against another subjective phenomenon, namely the personal passions of the governed, whose private interests, &c., suffer injury as the interest of the state is made to prevail against them.
The security of the state and its subjects against the misuse of power by ministers and their officials lies directly in their hierarchical organisation and their answerability; but it lies too in the authority given to societies and Corporations, because in itself this is a barrier against the intrusion of subjective caprice into the power entrusted to a civil servant, and it completes from below the state control which does not reach down as far as the conduct of individuals.
Remark: The conduct and culture of officials is the sphere where the laws and the government's decisions come into contact with individuals and are actually made good. Hence it is on the conduct of officials that there depend not only the contentment of citizens and their confidence in the government, but also the execution — or alternatively the distortion and frustration — of state projects; at any rate, this is the case in the sense that feeling and sentiment may easily rate the manner of execution as highly as the very content of the command to be executed, even though the content may in fact be the imposition of a tax. Owing to the direct and personal nature of this contact with individuals, control from above can attain its ends in this respect only to a rather incomplete extent. Moreover, its ends may also be hindered by interests common to officials who form a clique over against their inferiors on one side and their superiors on the other. In states whose institutions may perhaps be imperfectly developed in other respects also, the removal of hindrances like these requires and justifies the higher intervention of the sovereign (as for example of Frederick the Great in the notorious affair of Arnold the miller).
But the fact that a dispassionate, upright, and polite demeanour becomes customary [in civil servants] is (i) partly a result of direct education in thought and ethical conduct. Such an education is a mental counterpoise to the mechanical and semi-mechanical activity involved in acquiring the so-called 'sciences' of matters connected with administration, in the requisite business training, in the actual work done, &c. (ii) The size of the state, however, is an important factor in producing this result, since it diminishes the stress of family and other personal ties, and also makes less potent and so less keen such passions as hatred, revenge, &c. In those who are busy with the important questions arising in a great state, these subjective interests automatically disappear, and the habit is generated of adopting universal interests, points of view, and activities.
Civil servants and the members of the executive constitute the greater part of the middle class, the class in which the consciousness of right and the developed intelligence of the mass of the people is found. The sovereign working on the middle class at the top, and Corporation-rights working on it at the bottom, are the institutions which effectually prevent it from acquiring the isolated position of an aristocracy and using its education and skill as means to an arbitrary tyranny.
Remark: At one time the administration of justice, which is concerned with the private interests of all members of the state, was in this way turned into an instrument of profit and tyranny, when the knowledge of the law was buried in pedantry and a foreign tongue, and knowledge of legal processes was similarly buried in involved formalities.
Addition: The middle class, to which civil servants belong, is politically conscious and the one in which education is most prominent. For this reason it is also the pillar of the state so far as honesty and intelligence are concerned. A state without a middle class must therefore remain on a low level. Russia, for instance, has a mass of serfs on the one hand and a mass of rulers on the other. It is a prime concern of the state that a middle class should be developed, but this can be done only if the state is an organic unity like the one described here, i.e. it can be done only by giving authority to spheres of particular interests, which are relatively independent, and by appointing an army of officials whose personal arbitrariness is broken against such authorised bodies. Action in accordance with everyone's rights, and the habit of such action, is a consequence of the counterpoise to officialdom which independent and self-subsistent bodies create.
The legislature is concerned (a) with the laws as such in so far as they require fresh and extended determination; and (b) with the content of home affairs affecting the entire state. The legislature is itself a part of the constitution which is presupposed by it and to that extent lies absolutely outside the sphere directly determined by it; none the less, the constitution becomes progressively more mature in the course of the further elaboration of the laws and the advancing character of the universal business of government.
Addition: The constitution must in and by itself be the fixed and recognised ground on which the legislature stands, and for this reason it must not first be constructed. Thus the constitution is, but just as essentially it becomes, i.e. it advances and matures. This advance is an alteration which is imperceptible and which lacks the form of alteration. For example, the wealth of the German princes and their families began by being private property but then without any struggle or opposition it was converted into crown lands, i.e. into public property. This came about because the princes felt the need of integrating their possessions and demanded property guarantees from their country and Estates; and these guarantees were intertwined with such a mode of stabilising property that it ceased to be at the sole disposal of the princes. An analogous case is that [in the Holy Roman Empire] the Emperor was formerly a judge and travelled the Empire on circuit, and then, owing to the purely superficial results of cultural progress, external reasons made it necessary for him to delegate more and more of his judicial functions to others, with the result that the judicial power was transferred from the person of the monarch to groups of judges. Hence the advance from one state of affairs to another is tranquil in appearance and unnoticed. In this way a constitution changes over a long period of time into something quite different from what it was originally.
Legislative business is more precisely determined, in relation to private individuals, under these two heads: [a] provision by the state for their well-being and happiness, and [b] the exaction of services from them. The former comprises the laws dealing with all sorts of private rights, the rights of communities, Corporations, and organisations affecting the entire state, and further it indirectly (see § 298) comprises the whole of the constitution. As for the services to be exacted, it is only if these are reduced to terms of money, the really existent and universal value of both things and services, that they can be fixed justly and at the same time in such a way that any particular tasks and services which an individual may perform come to be mediated through his own arbitrary will.
Remark: The proper object of universal legislation may be distinguished in a general way from the proper function of administrative officials or of some kind of state regulation, in that the content of the former is wholly universal, i.e. determinate laws, while it is what is particular in content which falls to the latter, together with ways and means of enforcing the law. This distinction, however, is not a hard and fast one, because a law, by being a law, is ab initio something more than a mere command in general terms (such as 'Thou shalt not kill' — compare Remark (d) to § 140). A law must in itself be something determinate, but the more determinate it is, the more readily are its terms capable of being carried out as they stand. At the same time, however, to give to laws such a fully detailed determinacy would give them empirical features subject inevitably to alteration in the course of their being actually carried out, and this would contravene their character as laws. The organic unity of the powers of the state itself implies that it is one single mind which both firmly establishes the universal and also brings it into its determinate actuality and carries it out.
In the state it may happen, to begin with, that the numerous aptitudes, possessions, pursuits, and talents of its members, together with the infinitely varied richness of life intrinsic to these — all of which are at the same time linked with their owner's mentality — are not subject to direct levy by the state. It lays claim only to a single form of riches, namely money. (Services requisitioned for the defence of the state in war arise for the first time in connection with the duty considered in the next subdivision of this book.) In fact, however, money is not one particular type of wealth amongst others, but the universal form of all types so far as they are expressed in an external embodiment and so can be taken as 'things'. Only by being translated into terms of this extreme culmination of externality can services exacted by the state be fixed quantitatively and so justly and equitably.
In Plato's Republic, the Guardians are left to allot individuals to their particular classes and impose on them their particular tasks (compare Remark to as § 185). Under the feudal monarchies the services required from vassals were equally indeterminate, but they had also to serve in their particular capacity, e.g. as judges. The same particular character pertains to tasks imposed in the East and in Egypt in connection with colossal architectural undertakings, and so forth. In these circumstances the principle of subjective freedom is lacking, i.e. the principle that the individual's substantive activity — which in any case becomes something particular in content in services like those mentioned — shall be mediated through his particular volition. This is a right which can be secured only when the demand for service takes the form of a demand for something of universal value, and it is this right which has brought with it this conversion of the state's demands into demands for cash.
Addition: The two sides of the constitution bear respectively on the rights and the services of individuals. Services are now almost entirely reduced to money payments, and military service is now almost the only personal one exacted. In the past, far more claims were made directly on a man's own person, and he used to be called upon for work according to his ability. In our day, the state purchases what it requires. This may at first sight seem an abstract, heartless, and dead state of affairs, and for the state to be satisfied with indirect services may also look like decadence in the state. But the principle of the modern state requires that the whole of an individual's activity shall be mediated through his will. By means of money, however, the justice of equality can be achieved much more efficiently. Otherwise, if assessment depended on concrete ability, a talented man would be more heavily taxed than an untalented one. But nowadays respect for subjective freedom is publicly recognised precisely in the fact that the state lays hold of a man only by that which is capable of being held.
In the legislature as a whole the other powers are the first two moments which are effective, (i) the monarchy as that to which ultimate decisions belong; (ii) the executive as the advisory body since it is the moment possessed of [a] a concrete knowledge and oversight of the whole state in its numerous facets and the actual principles firmly established within it, and [b] a knowledge in particular of what the state's power needs. The last moment in the legislature is the Estates.
Addition: The proposal to exclude members of the executive from legislative bodies, as for instance the Constituent Assembly did, is a consequence of false views of the state. In England, ministers must be members of parliament, and this is right, because executive officers should be linked with and not opposed to the legislature. The ideal of the so-called 'independence of powers' contains the fundamental error of supposing that the powers, though independent, are to check one another. This independence, however, destroys the unity of the state, and unity is the chief of all desiderata.
The Estates have the function of bringing public affairs into existence not only implicitly, but also actually, i.e. of bringing into existence the moment of subjective formal freedom, the public consciousness as an empirical universal, of which the thoughts and opinions of the Many are particulars.
Remark: The phrase 'the Many' (o polli) denotes empirical universality more strictly than 'All', which is in current use. If it is said to be obvious that this 'all' prima facie excludes at least children, women, &c., then it is surely still more obvious that the quite definite word 'all' should not be used when something quite indefinite is meant.
Current opinion has put into general circulation such a host of perverse and false ideas and ways of speaking about 'People', 'Constitution', and 'Estates' that it would be a waste of energy to try to specify, expound, and correct them. The idea uppermost in men's minds when they speak about the necessity or the expediency of 'summoning the Estates' is generally something of this sort: (i) The deputies of the people, or even the people themselves, must know best what is in their best interest, and (ii) their will for its promotion is undoubtedly the most disinterested. So far as the first of these points is concerned, however, the truth is that if 'people' means a particular section of the citizens, then it means precisely that section which does not know what it wills. To know what one wills, and still more to know what the absolute will, Reason, wills, is the fruit of profound apprehension and insight, precisely the things which are not popular.
The Estates are a guarantee of the general welfare and public freedom. A little reflection will show that this guarantee does not lie in their particular power of insight, because the highest civil servants necessarily have a deeper and more comprehensive insight into the nature of the state's organisation and requirements. They are also more habituated to the business of government and have greater skill in it, so that even without the Estates they are able to do what is best, just as they also continually have to do while the Estates are in session. No, the guarantee lies on the contrary [a] in the additional insight of the deputies, insight in the first place into the activity of such officials as are not immediately under the eye of the higher functionaries of state, and in particular into the more pressing and more specialised needs and deficiencies which are directly in their view; [b] in the fact that the anticipation of criticism from the Many, particularly of public criticism, has the effect of inducing officials to devote their best attention beforehand to their duties and the schemes under consideration, and to deal with these only in accordance with the purest motives. This same compulsion is effective also on the members of the Estates themselves.
As for the conspicuously good will for the general welfare which the Estates are supposed to possess, it has been pointed out already (in the Remark to § 272) that to regard the will of the executive as bad, or as less good [than that of the ruled] is a presupposition characteristic of the rabble or of the negative outlook generally. This presupposition might at once be answered on its own ground by the counter-charge that the Estates start from isolated individuals, from a private point of view, from particular interests, and so are inclined to devote their activities to these at the expense of the general interests, while per contra the other moments in the power of the state explicitly take up the standpoint of the state from the start and devote themselves to the universal end.
As for the general guarantee which is supposed to lie peculiarly in the Estates, each of the other political institutions shares with the Estates in being a guarantee of public welfare and rational freedom, and some of these institutions, as for instance the sovereignty of the monarch, hereditary succession to the throne, the judicial system, &c., guarantee these things far more effectively than the Estates can.
Hence the specific function which the concept assigns to the Estates is to be sought in the fact that in them the subjective moment in universal freedom — the private judgement and private will of the sphere called 'civil society' in this book — comes into existence integrally related to the state. This moment is a determination of the Idea once the Idea has developed to totality, a moment arising as a result of an inner necessity not to be confused with external necessities and expediencies. The proof of this follows, like all the rest of our account of the state, from adopting the philosophical point of view.
Addition: The attitude of the executive to the Estates should not be essentially hostile, and a belief in the necessity of such hostility is a sad mistake. The executive is not a party standing over against another party in such a way that each has continually to steal a march on the other and wrest something from the other. If such a situation arises in the state, that is a misfortune, but it cannot be called health. The taxes voted by the Estates, moreover, are not to be regarded as a present given to the state. On the contrary, they are voted in the best interests of the voters themselves. The real significance of the Estates lies in the fact that it is through them that the state enters the subjective consciousness of the people and that the people begins to participate in the state.
Regarded as a mediating organ, the Estates stand between the government in general on the one hand and the nation broken up into particulars (people and associations) on the other. Their function requires them to possess a political and administrative sense and temper, no less than a sense for the interests of individuals and particular groups. At the same time the significance of their position is that, in common with the organised executive, they are a middle term preventing both the extreme isolation of the power of the crown, which otherwise might seem a mere arbitrary tyranny, and also the isolation of the particular interests of persons, societies, and Corporations. Further, and more important, they prevent individuals from having the appearance of a mass or an aggregate and so from acquiring an unorganised opinion and volition and from crystallising into a powerful bloc in opposition to the organised state.
Remark: It is one of the most important discoveries of logic that a specific moment which, by standing in an opposition, has the position of an extreme, ceases to be such and is a moment in an organic whole by being at the same time a mean. In connection with our present topic it is all the more important to emphasise this aspect of the matter because of the popular, but most dangerous, prejudice which regards the Estates principally from the point of view of their opposition to the executive, as if that were their essential attitude. If the Estates become an organ in the whole by being taken up into the state, they evince themselves solely through their mediating function. In this way their opposition to the executive is reduced to a show. There may indeed be an appearance of opposition between them, but if they were opposed, not merely superficially, but actually and in substance, then the state would be in the throes of destruction. That the clash is not of this kind is evident in the nature of the thing, because the Estates have to deal, not with the essential elements in the organism of the state, but only with rather specialised and trifling matters, while the passion which even these arouse spends itself in party cravings in connection with purely subjective interests such as appointments to the higher offices of state.
Addition: The constitution is essentially a system of mediation. In despotisms where there are only rulers and people, the people is effective, if at all, only as a mass destructive of the organisation of the state. When the multitude enters the state as one of its organs, it achieves its interests by legal and orderly means. But if these means are lacking, the voice of the masses is always for violence. Hence, in despotic states, the despot always indulges the mob and keeps his wrath for his entourage. For the same reason too the mob in such states pays only a few taxes. Taxes rise in a constitutionally governed state simply owing to the people's own consciousness. In no country are so many taxes paid as in England.
The universal class, or, more precisely, the class of civil servants, must, purely in virtue of its character as universal, have the universal as the end of its essential activity. In the Estates, as an element in the legislative power, the unofficial class acquires its political significance and efficacy; it appears, therefore, in the Estates neither as a mere indiscriminate multitude nor as an aggregate dispersed into its atoms, but as what it already is, namely a class subdivided into two, one sub-class [the agricultural class] being based on a tie of substance between its members, and the other [the business class] on particular needs and the work whereby these are met (see § 201 ff.). It is only in this way that there is a genuine link between the particular which is effective in the state and the universal.
Remark: This runs counter to another prevalent idea, the idea that since it is in the legislature that the unofficial class rises to the level of participating in matters of state, it must appear there in the form of individuals, whether individuals are to choose representatives for this purpose, or whether every single individual is to have a vote in the legislature himself. This atomistic and abstract point of view vanishes at the stage of the family, as well as that of civil society where the individual is in evidence only as a member of a general group. The state, however, is essentially an organisation each of whose members is in itself a group of this kind, and hence no one of its moments should appear as an unorganised aggregate. The Many, as units — a congenial interpretation of 'people', are of course something connected, but they are connected only as an aggregate, a formless mass whose commotion and activity could therefore only be elementary, irrational, barbarous, and frightful. When we hear speakers on the constitution expatiating about the 'people' — this unorganised collection — we know from the start that we have nothing to expect but generalities and perverse declamations.
The circles of association in civil society are already communities. To picture these communities as once more breaking up into a mere conglomeration of individuals as soon as they enter the field of politics, i.e. the field of the highest concrete universality, is eo ipso to hold civil and political life apart from one another and as it were to hang the latter in the air, because its basis could then only be the abstract individuality of caprice and opinion, and hence it would be grounded on chance and not on what is absolutely stable and justified.
So-called 'theories' of this kind involve the idea that the classes (Stände) of civil society and the Estates (Stände), which are the 'classes' given a political significance, stand wide apart from each other. But the German language, by calling them both Stände has still maintained the unity which in any case they actually possessed in former times.
The Estates, as an element in political life, still retain in their own function the class distinctions already present in the lower spheres of civil life. The position of the classes is abstract to begin with, i.e. in contrast with the whole principle of monarchy or the crown, their position is that of an extreme — empirical universality. This extreme opposition implies the possibility, though no more, of harmonisation, and the equally likely possibility of set hostility. This abstract position changes into a rational relation (into a syllogism, see Remark to § 302) only if the middle term between the opposites comes into existence. From the point of view of the crown, the executive already has this character (see § 300) — So, from the point of view of the classes, one moment in them must be adapted to the task of existing as in essence the moment of mediation.
The principle of one of the classes of civil society is in itself capable of adaptation to this political position. The class in question is the one whose ethical life is natural, whose basis is family life, and, so far as its livelihood is concerned, the possession of land. Its particular members attain their position by birth, just as the monarch does, and, in common with him, they possess a will which rests on itself alone.
This class is more particularly fitted for political position and significance in that its capital is independent alike of the state's capital, the uncertainty of business, the quest for profit, and any sort of fluctuation in possessions. It is likewise independent of favour, whether from the executive or the mob. It is even fortified against its own wilfulness, because those members of this class who are called to political life are not entitled, as other citizens are, either to dispose of their entire property at will, or to the assurance that it will pass to their children, whom they love equally, in similarly equal divisions. Hence their wealth becomes inalienable, entailed, and burdened by primogeniture.
Addition: This class has a volition of a more independent character. On the whole, the class of landed-property owners is divided into an educated section and a section of farmers. But over against both of these sorts of the business class, which is dependent on needs and people there stands concentrated on their satisfaction, and the civil servant class, which is essentially dependent on the state. The security and stability of the agricultural class may be still further increased by the institution of primogeniture, though this institution is desirable only from the point of view of politics, since it entails a sacrifice for the political end of giving the eldest son a life of independence. Primogeniture is grounded on the fact that the state should be able to reckon not on the bare possibility of political inclinations, but on something necessary. Now an inclination for politics is of course not bound up with wealth, but there is a relatively necessary connection between the two, because a man with independent means is not hemmed in by external circumstances and so there is nothing to prevent him from entering politics and working for the state. Where political institutions are lacking, however, the foundation and encouragement of primogeniture is nothing but a chain on the freedom of private rights, and either political meaning must be given to it, or else it will in due course disappear.
The right of this section of the agricultural class is thus based in a way on the natural principle of the family. But this principle is at the same time reversed owing to hard sacrifices made for political ends, and thereby the activity of this class is essentially directed to those ends. As a consequence of this, this class is summoned and entitled to its political vocation by birth without the hazards of election. It therefore has the fixed, substantive position between the subjective wilfulness or contingency of both extremes; and while it mirrors in itself (see § 305) the moment of the monarchical power, it also shares in other respects the needs and rights of the other extreme [i.e. civil society] and hence it becomes a support at once of the throne and society.
The second section of the Estates comprises the fluctuating element in civil society. This element can enter politics only through its deputies; the multiplicity of its members is an external reason for this, but the essential reason is the specific character of this element and its activity. Since these deputies are the deputies of civil society, it follows as a direct consequence that their appointment is made by the society as a society. That is to say, in making the appointment, society is not dispersed into atomic units, collected to perform only a single and temporary act, and kept together for a moment and no longer. On the contrary, it makes the appointment as a society, articulated into associations, communities, and Corporations, which although constituted already for other purposes, acquire in this way a connection with politics. The existence of the Estates and their assembly finds a constitutional guarantee of its own in the fact that this class is entitled to send deputies at the summons of the crown, while members of the former class are entitled to present themselves in person in the Estates (see § 307).
Remark: To hold that every single person should share in deliberating and deciding on political matters of general concern on the ground that all individuals are members of the state, that its concerns are their concerns, and that it is their right that what is done should be done with their knowledge and volition, is tantamount to a proposal to put the democratic element without any rational form into the organism of the state, although it is only in virtue of the possession of such a form that the state is an organism at all. This idea comes readily to mind because it does not go beyond the abstraction of 'being a member of the state', and it is superficial thinking which clings to abstractions. The rational consideration of a topic, the consciousness of the Idea, is concrete, and to that extent coincides with a genuine practical sense. Such a sense is itself nothing but the sense of rationality or the Idea, though it is not to be confused with mere business routine or the horizon of a restricted sphere. The concrete state is the whole, articulated into its particular groups. The member of a state is a member of such a group, i.e. of a social class, and it is only as characterised in this objective way that he comes under consideration when we are dealing with the state. His mere character as universal implies that he is at one and the same time both a private person and also a thinking consciousness, a will which wills the universal. This consciousness and will, however, lose their emptiness and acquire a content and a living actuality only when they are filled with particularity, and particularity means determinacy as particular and a particular class-status; or, to put the matter otherwise, abstract individuality is a generic essence, but has its immanent universal actuality as the generic essence next higher in the scale. Hence the single person attains his actual and living destiny for universality only when he becomes a member of a Corporation, a society, &c. (see § 251), and thereby it becomes open to him, on the strength of his skill, to enter any class for which he is qualified, the class of civil servants included.
Another presupposition of the idea that all should participate in the business of the state is that everyone is at home in this business — a ridiculous notion, however commonly we may hear it sponsored. Still, in public opinion (see § 316) a field is open to everyone where he can express his purely personal political opinions and make them count.
Since deputies are elected to deliberate and decide on public affairs, the point about their election is that it is a choice of individuals on the strength of confidence felt in them, i.e. a choice of such individuals as have a better understanding of these affairs than their electors have and such also as essentially vindicate the universal interest, not the particular interest of a society or a Corporation in preference to that interest. Hence their relation to their electors is not that of agents with a commission or specific instructions. A further bar to their being so is the fact that their assembly is meant to be a living body in which all members deliberate in common and reciprocally instruct and convince each other.
Addition: The introduction of representation implies that consent is to be given not directly by all but only by plenipotentiaries, since under a representative system the individual, qua infinite person, no longer comes into the picture. Representation is grounded on trust, but trusting another is something different from giving my vote myself in my own personal capacity. Hence majority voting runs counter to the principle that I should be personally present in anything which is to be obligatory on me. We have confidence in a man when we take him to be a man of discretion who will manage our affairs conscientiously and to the best of his knowledge, just as if they were his own. Thus the principle of the individual subjective will disappears, since confidence is given to a thing, to a man's principles, or his demeanour or his conduct or his concrete mentality generally. The important thing, then, is that a member of the Estates shall have a character, insight, and will adequate to his task of concentrating on public business. In other words there is no question of an individual's talking as an abstract single person. The point is rather that his interests are made good in an assembly whose business is with the general interest. The electors require a guarantee that their deputy will further and secure this general interest.
The guarantee that deputies will have the qualifications and disposition that accord with this end — since independent means attains its right in the first section of the Estates — is to be found so far as the second section is concerned — the section drawn from the fluctuating and changeable element in civil society — above all in the knowledge (of the organisation and interests of the state and civil society), the temperament, and the skill which a deputy acquires as a result of the actual transaction of business in managerial or official positions, and then evinces in his actions. As a result, he also acquires and develops a managerial and political sense, tested by his experience, and this is a further guarantee of his suitability as a deputy.
Remark: Subjective opinion, naturally enough, finds superfluous and even perhaps offensive the demand for such guarantees, if the demand is made with reference to what is called the 'people'. The state, however, is characterised by objectivity, not by a subjective opinion and its self-confidence. Hence it can recognise in individuals only their objectively recognisable and tested character, and it must be all the more careful on this point in connection with the second section of the Estates, since this section is rooted in interests and activities directed towards the particular, i.e. in the sphere where chance, mutability, and caprice enjoy their right of free play.
The external guarantee, a property qualification, is, if taken by itself, evidently just as one-sided in its externality as, at the other extreme, are purely subjective confidence and the opinion of the electorate. Both alike are abstractions in contrast with the concrete qualifications requisite for deliberation on affairs of state and comprised in the points indicated in Paragraph 302. This apart, however, a property qualification has a sphere, where it may work effectively, in the choice of the heads and other officers of the associations and societies, especially if many of these posts are honorary, and in direct reference to Estates business if the members draw no salary.
A further point about the election of deputies is that, since civil society is the electorate, the deputies should themselves be conversant with and participate in its special needs, difficulties, and particular interests. Owing to the nature of civil society, its deputies are the deputies of the various Corporations (see § 308), and this simple mode of appointment obviates any confusion due to conceiving the electorate abstractly and as an agglomeration of atoms. Hence the deputies eo ipso adopt the point of view of society, and their actual election is therefore either something wholly superfluous or else reduced to a trivial play of opinion and caprice.
Remark: It is obviously of advantage that the deputies should include representatives of each particular main branch of society (e.g. trade, manufactures, &c., &c.) — representatives who are thoroughly conversant with it and who themselves belong to it. The idea of free unrestricted election leaves this important consideration entirely at the mercy of chance. All such branches of society, however, have equal rights of representation. Deputies are sometimes regarded as 'representatives'; but they are representatives in an organic, rational sense only if they are representatives not of individuals or a conglomeration of them, but of one of the essential spheres of society and its large-scale interests. Hence representation cannot now be taken to mean simply the substitution of one man for another; the point is rather that the interest itself is actually present in its representative, while he himself is there to represent the objective element of his own being.
As for popular suffrage, it may be further remarked that especially in large states it leads inevitably to electoral indifference, since the casting of a single vote is of no significance where there is a multitude of electors. Even if a voting qualification is highly valued and esteemed by those who are entitled to it, they still do not enter the polling booth. Thus the result of an institution of this kind is more likely to be the opposite of what was intended; election actually falls into the power of a few, of a caucus, and so of the particular and contingent interest which is precisely what was to have been neutralised.
Each class in the Estates (see §§ 305-8) contributes something peculiarly its own to the work of deliberation. Further, one moment in the class-element has in the sphere of politics the special function of mediation, mediation between two existing things. Hence this moment must likewise acquire a separate existence of its own. For this reason the assembly of the Estates is divided into two houses.
This division, by providing chambers of the first and second instance, is a surer guarantee for ripeness of decision and it obviates the accidental character which a snap-division has and which a numerical majority may acquire. But the principal advantage of this arrangement is that there is less chance of the Estates being in direct opposition to the executive; or that, if the mediating element is at the same time on the side of the lower house, the weight of the lower house's opinion is all the stronger, because it appears less partisan and its opposition appears neutralised.
The purpose of the Estates as an institution is not to be an inherent sine qua non of maximum efficiency in the consideration and dispatch of state business, since in fact it is only an added efficiency that they can supply (see § 301). Their distinctive purpose is that in their pooled political knowledge, deliberations, and decisions, the moment of formal freedom shall come into its right in respect of those members of civil society who are without any share in the executive. Consequently, it is knowledge of public business above all which is extended by the publicity of Estates debates.
The opening of this opportunity to know has a more universal aspect because by this means public opinion first reaches thoughts that are true and attains insight into the situation and concept of the state and its affairs, and so first acquires ability to estimate these more rationally. By this means also, it becomes acquainted with and learns to respect the work, abilities, virtues, and dexterity of ministers and officials. While such publicity provides these abilities with a potent means of development and a theatre of higher distinction, it is at the same time another antidote to the self-conceit of individuals singly and en masse, and another means — indeed one of the chief means — of their education.
Addition: Estates Assemblies, open to the public, are a great spectacle and an excellent education for the citizen, and it is from them that the people learns best how to recognise the true character of its interests. The idea usually dominant is that everyone knows from the start what is best for the state and that the Assembly debate is a mere discussion of this knowledge. In fact, however, the precise contrary is the truth. It is here that there first begin to develop the virtues, abilities, dexterities, which have to serve as examples to the public. Of course such debates are irksome to ministers, who have to equip themselves with wit and eloquence to meet the criticisms there directed against them. None the less, publicity here is the chief means of educating the public in national affairs. A nation which has such public sittings is far more vitally related to the state than one which has no Estates Assembly or one which meets in private. It is only because their every step is made known publicly in this way that the two Houses keep pace with the advance of public opinion, and it then becomes clear that a man's castle building at his fireside with his wife and his friends is one thing, while what happens in a great Assembly, where one shrewd idea devours another, is something quite different.
The formal subjective freedom of individuals consists in their having and expressing their own private judgements, opinions, and recommendations on affairs of state. This freedom is collectively manifested as what is called 'public opinion', in which what is absolutely universal, the substantive and the true, is linked with its opposite, the purely particular and private opinions of the Many. Public opinion as it exists is thus a standing self-contradiction, knowledge as appearance, the essential just as directly present as the inessential.
Addition: Public opinion is the unorganised way in which a people's opinions and wishes are made known. What is actually made authoritative in the state must operate in an organised manner as the parts of the constitution do. But at all times public opinion has been a great power and it is particularly so in our day when the principle of subjective freedom has such importance and significance. What is to be authoritative nowadays derives its authority, not at all from force, only to a small extent from habit and custom, really from insight and argument.
Public opinion, therefore, is a repository not only of the genuine needs and correct tendencies of common life, but also, in the form of common sense (i.e. all-pervasive fundamental ethical principles disguised as prejudices), of the eternal, substantive principles of justice, the true content and result of legislation, the whole constitution, and the general position of the state. At the same time, when this inner truth emerges into consciousness and, embodied in general maxims, enters representative thinking whether it be there on its own account or in support of concrete arguments about felt wants, public affairs, the organisation of the state, and relations of parties within it — it becomes infected by all the accidents of opinion, by its ignorance and perversity, by its mistakes and falsity of judgement. Since in considering such opinion we have to do with the consciousness of an insight and conviction peculiarly one's own, the more peculiarly one's own an opinion may be the worse its content is, because the bad is that which is wholly private and personal in its content; the rational, on the other hand, is the absolutely universal, while it is on peculiarity that opining prides itself.
Remark: Hence it is not simply due to a subjective difference of view that we find it said that vox populi, vox Dei, and on the other hand, as Ariosto has it,
Che 'l volgare ignorante ogn' un riprenda
E parli più di quel che meno intenda
or, as Goethe puts it, 'the masses are respectable hands at fighting, but miserable hands at judging'.
Both types of assertion are true at one and the same time of public opinion, and since it is such a hotch-potch of truth and endless error, it cannot be genuinely serious about both of these. But about which is it serious? The question may seem hard to answer, and it will actually be hard if we cling simply to the words in which public opinion is directly expressed. The substantial, however, is the heart of public opinion, and therefore it is with that alone that it is truly serious. What the substantial is, though, is not discoverable from public opinion, because its very substantiality implies that it is known in and from itself alone. The passion with which an opinion is urged or the seriousness with which it is maintained or attacked and disputed is no criterion of its real content; and yet the last thing which opinion could be made to see is that its seriousness is nothing serious.
A great genius propounded as a problem for a public essay competition the question 'whether it be permissible to deceive a people'. The answer must have been that a people does not allow itself to be deceived about its substantive basis, the essence and specific character of its mind. On the other hand, it is self-deceived about the manner of its knowledge of these things and about its corresponding judgement of its actions, experiences, &c.
Addition: The principle of the modern world requires that what anyone is to recognise shall reveal itself to him as something entitled to recognition. Apart from that, however, everyone wishes to have some share in discussion and deliberation. Once he has had his say and so his share of responsibility, his subjectivity has been satisfied and he puts up with a lot. In France freedom of speech has turned out far less dangerous than enforced silence, because with the latter the fear is that men bottle up their objections to a thing, whereas argument gives them an outlet and a measure of satisfaction, and this is in addition a means whereby the thing can be pushed ahead more easily.
Public opinion therefore deserves to be as much respected as despised — despised for its concrete expression and for the concrete consciousness it expresses, respected for its essential basis, a basis which only glimmers more or less dimly in that concrete expression. But in itself it has no criterion of discrimination, nor has it the ability to extract the substantive element it contains and raise it to precise knowledge. Thus to be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great or rational whether in life or in science. Great achievement is assured, however, of subsequent recognition and grateful acceptance by public opinion, which in due course will make it one of its own prejudices.
Addition: Public opinion contains all kinds of falsity and truth, but it takes a great man to find the truth in it. The great man of the age is the one who can put into words the will of his age, tell his age what its will is, and accomplish it. What he does is the heart and the essence of his age, he actualises his age. The man who lacks sense enough to despise public opinion expressed in gossip will never do anything great.
Freedom of public communication — of the two modes of communication, the press and the spoken word, the first exceeds the second in range of contact but lags behind it in vivacity — satisfaction of the goading desire to say one's say and to have said it, is directly assured by the laws and by-laws which control or punish its excesses. But it is assured indirectly by the innocuous character which it acquires as a result principally of the rationality of the constitution, the stability of government, and secondly of the publicity of Estates Assemblies. The reason why the latter makes free speech harmless is that what is voiced in these Assemblies is a sound and mature insight into the concerns of the state, with the result that members of the general public are left with nothing of much importance to say, and above all are deprived of the opinion that what they say is of peculiar importance and efficacy. A further safeguard of free speech is the indifference and contempt speedily and necessarily visited on shallow and cantankerous talking.
Remark: To define freedom of the press as freedom to say and write whatever we please is parallel to the assertion that freedom as such means freedom to do as we please. Talk of this kind is due to wholly uneducated, crude, and superficial ideas. Moreover, it is in the very nature of the thing that abstract thinking should nowhere be so stubborn, so unintelligent, as in this matter of free speech, because what it is considering is the most fleeting, the most contingent, and the most personal side of opinion in its infinite diversity of content and tergiversation. Beyond the direct incitation to theft, murder, rebellion, &c., there lies its artfully constructed expression — an expression which seems in itself quite general and vague, while all the time it conceals a meaning anything but vague or else is compatible with inferences which are not actually expressed, and it is impossible to determine whether they rightly follow from it, or whether they were meant to be inferred from it. This vagueness of matter and form precludes laws on these topics from attaining the requisite determinacy of law, and since the trespass, wrong, and injury here are so extremely personal and subjective in form, judgement on them is reduced equally to a wholly subjective verdict. Such an injury is directed against the thoughts, opinions, and wills of others, but apart from that, these form the element in which alone it is actually anything. But this element is the sphere of the freedom of others, and it therefore depends on them whether the injurious expression of opinion is or is not actually an effective act.
Laws then [against libel, &c.] may be criticised by exhibiting their indeterminacy as well as by arguing that they leave it open to the speaker or writer to devise turns of phrase or tricks of expression, and so evade the laws or claim that judicial decisions are mere subjective verdicts. Further, however, against the view that the expression of opinion is an act with injurious effects, it may be maintained that it is not an act at all, but only opining and thinking, or only talking. And so we have before us a claim that mere opining and talking is to go unpunished because it is of a purely subjective character both in form and content, because it does not mean anything and is of no importance. And yet in the same breath we have the claim that this same opining and talking should be held in high esteem and respect — the opining because it is personal property and in fact pre-eminently the property of mind; the talking because it is only this same property being expressed and used.
But the substance of the matter is and remains that traducing the honour of anyone, slander, abuse, the contemptuous caricature of government, its ministers, officials, and in particular the person of the monarch, defiance of the laws, incitement to rebellion, &c., &c., are all crimes or misdemeanours in one or other of their numerous gradations. The rather high degree of indeterminability which such actions acquire on account of the element in which they are expressed does not annul this fundamental character of theirs. Its only effect is that the subjective field in which they are committed also determines the nature and form of the reaction to the offence. It is the field in which the offence was committed which itself necessitates subjectivity of view, contingency, &c., in the reaction to the offence, whether the reaction takes the form of punishment proper or of police action to prevent crimes. Here, as always, abstract thinking sets itself to explain away the fundamental and concrete nature of the thing by concentrating on isolated aspects of its external appearance and on abstractions drawn therefrom.
The sciences, however, are not to be found anywhere in the field of opinion and subjective views, provided of course that they be sciences in other respects. Their exposition is not a matter of clever turns of phrase, allusiveness, half-utterances, and semi-reticences, but consists in the unambiguous, determinate, and open expression of their meaning and purport. It follows that they do not fall under the category of public opinion (see § 316). Apart from this, however, as I said just now the element in which views and their expression become actions in the full sense and exist effectively, consists of the intelligence, principles, and opinions of others. Hence this aspect of these actions, i.e. their effectiveness proper and their danger to individuals, society, and the state (compare § 218), depends on the character of the ground on which they fall, just as a spark falling on a heap of gunpowder is more dangerous than if it falls on hard ground where it vanishes without trace. Thus, just as the right of science to express itself depends on and is safeguarded by its subject-matter and content, so an illegitimate expression may also acquire a measure of security, or at least sufferance, in the scorn which it has brought upon itself. An offence of this sort is punishable on its own account too, but part of it may be accounted that kind of nemesis which inner impotence, feeling itself oppressed by the preponderating abilities and virtues of others, is impelled to vent in order to come to itself again in face of such superiority, and to restore some self-consciousness to its own nullity. It was a nemesis of a more harmless type which Roman soldiers vented against their generals when they sang scurrilous songs about them in triumphal processions in order in a way to get even with them for all the hard service and discipline they had undergone, and especially for the omission of their names from the triumphal honours. The former type of nemesis, the bad and hateful type, is deprived of its effect by being treated with scorn, and hence, like the public, which perhaps forms a circle of spectators of scurrility, it is restricted to futile malice and to the self-condemnation which it implicitly contains.
Subjectivity is manifested in its most external form as the undermining of the established life of the state by opinion and ratiocination when they endeavour to assert the authority of their own fortuitous character and so bring about their own destruction. But its true actuality is attained in the opposite of this, i.e. in the subjectivity identical with the substantial will of the state, the subjectivity which constitutes the concept of the power of the crown and which, as the ideality of the whole state, has not up to this point attained its right or its existences.
Addition: Subjectivity has been treated once already (§§ 279 ff.) as the apex of the state, as the crown. Its other aspect is its arbitrary manifestation in public opinion, its most external mode of appearance. The subjectivity of the monarch is inherently abstract, but it should be something concrete and so be the ideality which diffuses itself over the whole state. The state at peace is that in which all branches of civil life subsist, but they possess their subsistence outside and alongside one another as something which issues from the Idea of the whole. The fact that it so issues must also come into appearance as the ideality of the whole.
2. Sovereignty vis-à-vis foreign States
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