FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Age of Ego

Hegel’s conception of history taught us that the meaning of history was the liberation of the individual through his or her recognition as a fully autonomous rational person.

Indeed, since the French Revolution, the Age of the Individual has expanded apace even if not always in a straight line.

Today, more than ever, our politics, economics, culture, and society are all, at least nominally, directed at the well being and full recognition of each and everyone of us.

If this is so, then why are so many people still frustrated and unhappy in their daily life?

In part, this state of affairs might be due to our neglecting of the second part of the Hegelian equation: the individual’s place and relationship to others mediated by the State.

The State, according to Hegel, is the representation of universal rationality. Put in another way, the state is the structure which allows individuals to be recognized as full individuals through their participation in it. Each and every individual has a role to play within the state. The fulfillment of that role satisfies our need for recognizing one another and the constant realization that we are not and cannot be just for ourselves but for each other.

A culture, such as ours, which celebrates the socially untethered individual is propagating a fundamental lie. Individuals cannot be fully realized without the cooperation of all other individuals; an essential activity which, in the modern world, is mediated by the state.

Yet, what is the state in the modern world? What has it become? Is it a universalist, rationalist tool for the realization of the greater good?

Certainly not.

Today, the modern state is a tool of elites to ensure their total domination and power over all other classes and groups. It does not matter if the state calls itself “democratic” or a “one party state”. In effect, all states today are “one party” states controlled by their respective elites who are often tied to one another transnationally. We are, all of us, under the thumb of a new global elite who dictates the nature of our social being. “Global Empire” is not an all too fanciful term for the present situation.

And like the Roman Empire before it, it is not a coincidence that many people are turning spiritually inward toward personalistic philosophies of self-help and care. Ironically, even the philosophy of ancient Stoicism is making somewhat of a comeback.

None of this is surprising.

The individual cannot be truly satisfied if he or she is not a participating and consequent member of a polity; of a state. The elites of this world have carefully and calculatedly castrated our social and economic potentialities to do so.

The root of our gnawing unhappiness in our brave new world is simply this: consequential inter-personal participation in the sphere of the political has been vanishing for decades. The ability to effect collective change from below has been diminishing. True collectivity has been consistently denied.

The disassociation of the individual from the polity; in effect the non-existence anywhere of true democracy has led to a hollowing out of the human personality. It is only in concrete social action that we materialize fully as human beings. It is as members of a community who are able to truly guide that community that we find a deep human purpose.

Once again, recalling Hegel and the Greeks before him, it is not enough to exist as economic man symbolically feigning electoral freedom every two or four years ; one must directly participate in the polis.

More articles by:

Dan Corjescu teaches Political Philosophy at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
December 06, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Eat an Impeachment
Matthew Hoh
Authorizations for Madness; The Effects and Consequences of Congress’ Endless Permissions for War
Jefferson Morley
Why the Douma Chemical Attack Wasn’t a ‘Managed Massacre’
Andrew Levine
Whatever Happened to the Obama Coalition?
Paul Street
The Dismal Dollar Dems and the Subversion of Democracy
Dave Lindorff
Conviction and Removal Aren’t the Issue; It’s Impeachment of Trump That is Essential
Ron Jacobs
Law Seminar in the Hearing Room: Impeachment Day Six
Linda Pentz Gunter
Why Do We Punish the Peacemakers?
Louis Proyect
Michael Bloomberg and Me
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Hits a Grim Threshold
Joseph Natoli
What We Must Do
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Global Poison Spring
Robert Fantina
Is Kashmir India’s Palestine?
Charles McKelvey
A Theory of Truth From the South
Walden Bello
How the Battle of Seattle Made the Truth About Globalization True
Evan Jones
BNP Before a French Court
Torsten Bewernitz – Gabriel Kuhn
Syndicalism for the Twenty-First Century: From Unionism to Class-Struggle Militancy
Matthew Stevenson
Across the Balkans: From Banja Luka to Sarajevo
Thomas Knapp
NATO is a Brain Dead, Obsolete, Rabid Dog. Euthanize It.
Forrest Hylton
Bolivia’s Coup Government: a Far-Right Horror Show
M. G. Piety
A Lesson From the Danes on Immigration
Ellen Isaacs
The Audacity of Hypocrisy
Manuel García, Jr.
From Caesar’s Last Breath to Ours
Binoy Kampmark
Going to the ICJ: Myanmar, Genocide and Aung San Suu Kyi’s Gamble
Jill Richardson
Marijuana and the Myth of the “Gateway Drug”
Muzamil Bhat
Srinagar’s Shikaras: Still Waters Run Deep Losses
Gaither Stewart
War and Betrayal: Change and Transformation
Farzana Versey
What Religion is Your Nationalism?
Clark T. Scott
The Focus on Trump Reveals the Democrat Model
Monika Zgustova
Chernobyl, Lies and Messianism in Russia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Do Bernie’s Supporters Know What “Not Me, Us” Means? Does Bernie?
Peter Harley
Aldo Leopold, Revisited
Winslow Myers
A Presidential Speech the World Needs to Hear
Christopher Brauchli
The Chosen One
Jim Britell
Misconceptions About Lobbying Representatives and Agencies
Ted Rall
Trump Gets Away with Stuff Because He Does
Mel Gurtov
Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and the Insecurity of China’s Leadership
Nicky Reid
Dennis Kucinich, Tulsi Gabbard and the Slow Death of the Democratic Delusion
Tom H. Hastings
Cross-Generational Power to Change
John Kendall Hawkins
1619: The Mighty Whitey Arrives
Julian Rose
Why I Don’t Have a Mobile Phone
Elliot Sperber
Class War is Chemical War
December 05, 2019
Colin Todhunter
Don’t Look, Don’t See: Time for Honest Media Reporting on Impacts of Pesticides
Nick Pemberton
Gen Z and Free Speech
Bob Lord
The U-Turn That Made America Staggeringly Unequal
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail