God & The Hegelian Dialectic

Rudi Dutscke, the Christian Left’s Abbie Hoffman

Unlike most of the major enlightenment philosophers, Hegel was a deeply Christian man. His theory on the progression of society through ideas which is the dominant and I, believe, true description of social progress. The presence of God in history is a topic I would deign not cover as it ventures out of the realm of the philosophical and into the supernatural. It is a risky path to tread. If God is the ultimate source of moral philosophy in the cosmology to which I adhere then social progress in the direction of that moral teleology has a relationship to the divine. That the victories won in the liberal social movements of the 19th and 20th centuries from 1848 to 1968 and beyond were affected by the presence of God. That in the heart of Abbie Hoffman, Emma Goldman, and Eugene Debs was the actual Holy Spirit. That statement likely would have Jerry Falwell turn in his grave but if God did affect those movements in the direction of moral progress, it was in the courage and love of the heroes in the ranks of the good guys (the left) and not the bad guys (usually the right).

I don’t think it is too much a stretch to argue that the moral advancements of the last century were a literal miracle. Things for thousands of years in this species had not gone in that direction and suddenly they did. The abolition of slavery, the emancipation of women, the widespread mores against child labor, capital punishment, and torture. In the three hundred centuries since Homo Sapiens evolved from their Homo Heidlebergensis forefathers on the savannahs of Africa, not a period has been seen like it. It happening a mere nineteen and twenty centuries after that the founding of my religion is also notable. Of course, the last century has seen the absolute worst of humanity on a titanic scale. Some of which were obvious and others of which were far more subtle like global warming and the social collapse brought about by the likes of John Rawls and Robert Moses. The loneliess and destruction of community of car-centric hyper-liberalism.

As much as I dislike John Rawls, unlike 20th century philosophers I dislike like Foucault, I believe Rawls was fundamentally a good man. While I see his idea about the thin-good as very bad and his program as largely poisonous to the soul of society in its emotional and moral vacuuity, the man, himself, seemed to be of benevolent intention and strong character. He thought the way to peace was through the abolition of community, meaning, and virtue ethics which was horrible but his aim to create a fair society without harmful conflict was noble. I am unwilling to attribute the regress he caused to the devil, rather, insofar as the abode of the angels influences political philosophy I would argue that Rawls, for all his flaws, was inspired by God. Listening to God does not impart perfect wisdom but gives one the strength to take the long and winding path to find it for oneself.

Free will was given to humans so that the perfect verb, love, which is a product of volition, could exist. Therefore perfect wisdom could not be given directly but had to be discovered by those who sought it. In trying to build the best society, Rawls was seeking it. Foucault, the sadomasochistic pedophile he literally was, was a philosopher primarily to rationalize his own life. When shagging preteen boys in Tunisia in the 1960s, Foucault’s reasons for postmodernist ethics were to socially construct a morality where he wasn’t considered evil. He had some good ideas but they were among a mountain of bad ones and their ideation was selfish, not altruistic like Rawls. The point, ultimately, is that the Holy Spirit guides the good guys in the right direction but the specifics are for the good guys to disagree with amongst themselves and through the wisdom of the mob the right answer eventually emerges. This is how orthodoxy is made, we had a series of church councils and the spirit produced a particular doctrine. I accept the Council of Nicaea because the collective produced something through time and debate and it has been verified by the experts in the field many times.

Returning to Hegel, Hegel’s dialectic is messy, we go back one step for every two steps onward, and yet ultimately land further along than when we began. In that I see God. It would be more secular if history were a clean progress but that it is a progress that goes backward, sideways, and through hell to ultimately and magically land in front of where we had been. The battle between good and evil in human history is that between two vague groups, the constituent members of which never have the perfect ideas and, yet, the good guys have something the bad guys don’t. The power of extremely subtle miracle that is, in the end, the excaliber that lacerates the beast and rescues the metaphorical damsel that is the human condition.

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