This chapter examines the political ideas of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. In his Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1821), Hegel articulates his views about reason, actuality, and philosophy. For Hegel, the task of philosophy is to identify and display the reason contained in the actual institutions and practices of the social world. Hegel believes that philosophy will be able to find reason in the institutions of the social world he inhabits. After providing a short biography of Hegel, this chapter considers some of the central themes and theses of the Philosophy of Right. It also explores several basic elements in Hegel's thought, including his concept of freedom, his ideas of spirit and dialectic, and his account of the institutions of property and contract. It concludes by reflecting on Hegel's significance as a political thinker.
This chapter examines Karl Marx's work prior to 1846, with particular emphasis on his concept of alienation. Although Marx borrows heavily from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and from Ludwig Feuerbach, his background in the philosophy and culture of ancient Greece is an important factor in his early essentialism. The early Marx rejects Hegel's theory that the state represents an ethical community. For Marx, communism is the movement of the exploited workers struggling to free themselves, and, in the process, liberate the whole of humanity so that they can freely develop their human essence of social creativity. After providing a short biography of Marx, this chapter considers his arguments about human essence and its alienation as well as his critique of the modern state. It concludes with an analysis of Marx's communist alternative.