Hegel in light of the Fourth Political Theory & Laocracy – A Brief Outline

By Luiz Campos

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By Luiz Campos – Member of NR-Brazil in MG, teaches History and Philosophy

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The philosophy of the German Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel has interesting tools to offer to dissenting thinking. Concepts such as dialectic, praxis and Volkgeist, if adapted to our struggle, become instruments of analysis and action. Incidentally, such adaptation is fundamental, which also involves the study of the whole course of post-Hegelian thought, in both left and right-wing thinkers. Hegel’s echoes are in works of as different natures as those of Marx, Lenin and Gramsci in one opposite and Spengler, Gentile and Schmitt in another. This is the distance the shadow of Hegelian influence reaches. We can and should drink from this source.

The concept of dialectic offers us dual utility. In a broader sphere, it is a useful adjunct in the analysis of phenomena within a political conjuncture and even in the march of peoples and societies within the becoming of history (or the becoming itself). Dialectics acts as a kind of judge, showing us which position to take in times of crisis. Their moments of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, if applied to society and politics, can show us in advance and logic the reaction situations that follow one another in the battle for power. For example, it is relatively common for a government considered to be “right” to be succeeded by a response, a reaction to the “left.” What is the rise to power of the Bolsonaro Government but a kind of dialectical reaction, an antithesis, what was considered a “left” bad government? What can we expect next? Hegelian dialectics may give us some clues.

In a more everyday sphere, dialectic is alive in the concept of praxis. Here it is important to highlight the development of post-Hegelian thinking. In Hegel, the idea of ​​praxis is still only speculative and idealistic, it is a stage of knowledge, of the self-consciousness of the Absolute. Even so, we can find in works such as Phenomenology of the Spirit and in Logic, brief aspects of concrete, palpable and human praxis. These aspects were developed by continuators of his thinking, who transformed this theoretical and abstract praxis into something dynamic in the world of men. The Hegelian Absolute was transformed into a real subject; the content of praxis was no longer theoretical but effective. Feuerbach pioneered this process.

In the course of this process that fixed it in the social world of men, the praxis transmuted into applied theory in the real world, in the political environment, which will show what is valid and what should be changed in theories. It is a dialectical relationship (thesis, antithesis and synthesis) between thinking and practice in the real world. Every political organization that claims to have any real-world impact must have, in its ranks, using a Gramscian term, “organic intellectuals.” Thinking minds that have praxis, that is, that they create theories and apply them in the real world, in the social and political environment.

The concept of the Volkgeist (Spirit of the People) can be seen as a kind of predecessor of our conceptions of self-determination of peoples and multipolarity. Volkgeist is the collective spirit of a people, which sets it apart from all other peoples. It is its unique essence, its unique identity as a social presence in the world. It is the synthesis of the wills of all members of a people, manifested in all their idiosyncrasies, such as laws, culture and politics. The Laocracy can be seen as the political culmination of the Volkgeist, the people, as manifest will, guiding their own destiny. May each people live and determine according to their Spirit.

These are just some guidelines on the usefulness of Hegelian and post-Hegelian thinking for Brazilian dissent. The elements cited here allow a thorough study, which makes political activism more effective and inserts it precisely in the dialectical movement of praxis.

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