state authoritarianism and ontology

Howie Chodos howie at magi.com
Tue Jul 4 10:29:03 MDT 1995


This will be brief. Leo wrote:

>Now, singular and homogeneous (which is to say, modern) notions of human
>nature are only one element -- and a theoretical element at that -- in this
>ensemble which leads to state authoriatianism. Without extending this lengthy
>discourse much longer, let me see if I can show this is the case. When the
>modern individual man is conceptualized as a pre-political and natural
>phenomenon, as modern notions of human nature do, his social existence and
>social unity can only be achieved through the state. But when the state is
>introduced into a picture so conceived, the 'natural freedom' of man
>immediately begins to dissipate and fade; for so long as atomized individual
>and the state are the only two terms of the equation, and the state is the
>second and dynamic terms, the rights of the individual exist at the
>sufferance of the state.

I just wanted to second John Walker's comments on this passage and to note
that there seems to be embedded in it a distinctively Hegelian argument. Leo
would seem to be presenting aspects of Hegel's argument on the relationship
between the individual and the state from the Philosophy of Right as if it
represented the necessary trajectory of liberal thought. I'm not sure how
this relates to the rest of Leo's argument, but it does seem to substantiate
John's assertion that there is something amiss in this interpretation of
liberalism.

Howie Chodos



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