Continued from last post . . . I meant to get to this idea yesterday, but my preamble ended up taking damn near the whole post. But here's Negri's basic argument against the core of Hegel’s philosophy and the essence of modernity it expresses.
The core concept of modernity, as far as the purpose of Empire goes, is mediation. As I wrote this weekend. Politically speaking, for our rights to exist, they need a mediating body to recognize those rights, administer them, and protect them.
In other words, we can only be complete individuals acting in the full freedom of our fundamental rights as citizens of a state that recognizes, notarizes, and administers those rights. Our individual freedom requires that we subsume our individuality to the bureaucracy of the state.
Only in leaving your individuality behind can you be free.
Now here’s Negri. He interprets the political meaning of Hegel’s entire system of metaphysics. The state of living in absolute knowledge resolves the human sense of alienation from perfection.
Hegel builds a complex structure of relations among concepts. Reasoning properly leads you from being dumbfounded at the contradictions of the world, to understanding how all of these contradictions perfectly reconcile in the fullness of reason.
The path to absolute knowledge and its structure has the firm necessity of a logical proof. Because it is one. That's Hegel’s Logic, working through the fundamental structure of universal reason as a logical proof.
And what does this total reconciliation look like in a political context? It's such a deep submission to authority that you subsume your own will into the actions of the nation, the collective ethnic-cultural-linguistic entity of which you've always been a member.
You just weren't yet rational enough to realize that you were more than a disconnected, alienated individual.
But this submission of will and subsumption of being is only possible once the nation follows the necessity of reason’s structure to achieve its own absolute knowledge. It's become the administrative engine through which our individual rights can be realized, notarized, and guaranteed.
The state. The nation achieves the culmination of its essence as the state. The individual achieves the culmination of its essence as a citizen.
You’re subsumed into the collective, but retain your individual rights. They’re guaranteed in all the forms that legitimate your existence as a citizen, whether they’re a birth certificate or a citizenship oath.
Liberation is finished with the citizen in the liberal state that guarantees individual rights.
Sounds fine in the abstract, but look what the state is composed from in the Hegelian picture. It’s the culmination of the logic of nationhood. And all that nationhood implies: historical continuity, cultural continuity, territorial continuity.
A territory is for one nation alone, throughout its history. Otherwise, you break continuity and you prevent the nation from realizing its highest form (and humanity's highest form) as national unities subsumed into the nation-state.
This is not the foundation of freedom, but of nationalist violence, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. If you refuse to accept difference into your community, then variation will always be your enemy. This is true in all contexts of human thought and action.
Value unity and conformity over rebellion and difference, and you’ll never have a new idea in your life. You'll stop innovating, stop growing, stagnate into a pool of racist, discoloured, screaming, acid-melted flesh of human toxicity.
Progress comes from rebellion against the rules, restlessness in the face of “how things have always been.” Freaks, visionaries, and immigrants are the fuel of progress and its engine too.
Freedom is never perfectly realized. The demand for freedom isn’t striving for a perfected state of humanity. Believing that you're perfect is the worst thing anyone can do, because you’ll never change yourself anymore.
Freedom the demand for freedom. It's the struggle against the weight of how things are.