Hegel's Philosophy of Right and Marx's Criticism
This essay deals with the main content, structure and purpose of Hegel's principal political work-The Philosophy of Right (1821)-and Marx's criticism. It consists of nine parts. At first, the authors points out that Hegel despite his speculative philosophy and his guarded support of Christian tenets, is not a conservative, let alone a reactionary political thinker. He was opposed to the divine right of the monarch and inclined toward the liberalism then prevailed in Western Europe. In his major political and legal writing he designed the ideal form of government and the state, in which the crown, executive and Estates respectively played a vital role. He disapproved the universal suffrage as the direct way to establish democracy. The distinction between civil and political society characterizes the modern national state. For him the Assembly of Estates represents the aggregate interests of civil society. In the summer of 1 843 the young Marx started to write a lengthy book aiming at the critique of Hegel political doctrine, which, however, remained throughout his lifetime as unpublished manuscripts. The manuscripts were unearthed and have been available after the end of the World War Two. Thus, we encounter Marx's early writings including the piece of "Critique of Hegel's Doctrine of the State." Based on the German original text and its English translation, we are able to analyze the main thrusts of Marx's criticism. Basically, he criticizes how Hegel inverts reality by deriving empirical institutions (family, civil society and the state) from philosophical idea (Geist). Put in other words, the young Marx attempts to expose Hegel's mysticism. By means of textual analysis and comparison, he shows the internal inconsistencies or contradictions in Hegel's argument. Marx did not concur with Hegel's unity and synthesis of political and social life, common and individual interests. He contested the labeling of the truly universal class for the bureaucracy. He called for unrestricted suffrage to heal the schism in society. Marx's attack on the traditional institution of the primogeniture (The inheritance of landed property passes automatically to the first-born son) and his critique of Hegel's support of such an unfair system led him to look seriously into the subject matter of private property. Through his discovery of German proletariat (poor peasants and workers) and his novel idea of combination of German philosophy with German working class, Marx arrived for the first time at the concept of establishing communism by the abolition of private property. Thus Hegel's political and legal doctrine paved way for the young Marx to adopt a philosophical kind of communism. Despite of the recent scholars' assertion that the importance of Hegel for Marx has been declining, the present authors insist that Hegelianism still exerts a tremendous and profound impact on Marx and Marxism.
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