Examines Hegel's unique understanding and assessment of capitalism as an economic, social, and cultural phenomenon.
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Of course Marx living in mid-century Great Britain had a better understanding of capitalism than did Hegel who died in economically backward Prussia before any significant industrial proletariat had come into existence. Hegel is interesting in his own right but his system remains, as Marx said, the opposite of his own.
Second, Hegel is remarkably interesting to read as an economist. Hegel certainly learned the lessons of the new arising commercial society in England, the resulting anti-Mercantilist i. Hegel was anxious to preserve the more human dimensions of social being, without being an advocate for conserving Feudalism. He well understood the estrangement and alienation caused by commercial society.
This is what first positively attracted Marx to Hegel. From Smith and Ferguson, Hegel incorporated personal estrangement and social alienation. For Smith the alienation caused by specialization could be successfully addressed by supporting social institutions and reinstituting education. Hegel believed this to be reactionary and that the personal estrangement and social alienation should be avoided, not addressed after it had become part of the personal development process.
From Stuart and Malthus, Hegel understood that the English economy was crisis prone. Say were theorizing that the new commercial society need not be crisis prone of course Marx would establish that the Stuart, Malthus, Hegel position was far closer to capturing the macrodynamic of the newly emerging commercial society, or what Marx called capitalistic society. Marxists too often forget the importance of philosophy to their determent. The structural reproduction of capitalism, i. Philosophy underscores this dimension, the continental tradition of Hegel emphasizes this, and it has always been extremely important to Marxian social theory.
Economists claim that economics begins with Adam Smith, this is radically false, the philosophers of Antiquity were very sophisticated political economists. The brilliance of Plato, much like Hegel! Marx understood this, too often Marxian political economists failed to recognize the importance of philosophy generally, and Hegel in particular.
History is the product of causal relations and class conflict, not dialectical conflict between ideas.
Marx's Latent Hegelianism. Although Marx denies objective moral truths, his account is an account of the elimination of alienation, oppression and exploitation. Marx claims to be able to explain them purely descriptively. But in this he fails. His account seems to make use of universal ethical categories.
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Surprisingly, according to Marx, history has a teleology. Its goal is human emancipation Hegel's goal. Emancipation is understood anti-individualistically. Emancipation as a species being. History progresses dialectically by resolving conflict. Note, however, that Marx's description of the process is not Hegelian:.
Private property "is the product of alienated labor, and. It produces palaces—but for the worker, hovels.
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Wage laborers are literally alienated from their labor, because they sell it to capitalists. Labor itself becomes a commodity. Individualistic man replaces man as a species being. How will this emancipation take place? By the elimination of all conflict Who does this remind you of? What must be eliminated to eliminate conflict?
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Without private property, there can be no greed, no competition, no conflict of economic interests. Note how much the early Marx is influenced by Hegel:.
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Freedom is identified with the universal The later Marx will claim to replace the normative moral with the purely empirical. But in this he will fail.
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