What are we to think of rebellion? There are a lot of initial thoughts that come to mind. I don’t know what I think of rebellion or revolt. It’s on my mind right now for a few reasons. Obviously, the Occupy Wall Street movement is a current reflection of social rebellion, although, it is not quite a rebellion. Also, in my 19th century philosophy class, we’re now reading Marx. Marx was that shining example how one person can change the world. Most people think about Communism right along with their thoughts of Marx, and understandably so. But to understand Marx in relation to Hegel adds, at least for me, a new dynamic to his thought. Hegel was a heavily influential thinker through which Marx developed his ideas. Essentially, without going into any detail whatsoever, Marx took Hegel’s idea of history; as an expression, or on-going development, of absolute spirit–or the sharpening of our self-determing freedom, and developed it in his own way. Hegel’s thought is a positivist ideal which puts faith in the ability of man to come to truth on his own terms through a process which builds upon each previous generation or era. Therefore, as time progresses, mankind will only become a better version of itself.
Marx put forth his own philosophy based on Hegel. While Hegel remained abstract in his philosophy (i.e. the use words like “absolute spirit,” and “God”), Marx brought the idea down to earth. Marx reframed this process in purely materialistic terms, and as a result, became economic. I think that Marx man-handled Hegel’s philosophy and rushed it. While Hegel’s philosophy was a reflective one (which looked back through history as something that could reveal the truth of his ideas), Marx transformed it and made it something which man could realize, and had to realize, here and now, and move forward. Marx’s philosophy was a design for the future–it required revolution.
So what of it? I think Marx is a perfect example of what man does wrong. The decision to see man, an era of man, a vision of a man which must be created–to see man as the means of his own perfection–requires man to objectify himself in a way that distorts vision–regardless of the psychology which may lead one to believe that he can be mankind’s savior. Hegel put faith in man to come to higher degrees of truth as an unconscious participant. Marx put the responsibility solely on man which requires a delusion. While Marx could see the destructive consequence of being alienated from one’s own creativity, Marx’s view was developed in alienation from that Hegelian humility which saw man build upon the truth as an unconscious player, unaware of the larger development of history. To be unaware of the dialectic process is necessary in order for history to develop “naturally.” There is a very fine line. To be conscious of a potential role is to lead that responsibility vulnerable to an anthropological hutzpah which could disrupt the process. Hegel expressed a faith in man, Marx abused that faith and therefore undermined it. Marx forgot, or chose to ignore, that man will always be man.
All of this makes me wonder about the concept of rebellion, and how I see it being played out now. I generally see man as a reactionary species. We allow injustice, we react to injustice and call it an expression of the human spirit, yet we never (and perhaps this is necessary) understand our position holistically. The big picture rarely matters when it should, yet considering the design of existence, one that prevents us from understanding the larger context, all we have is the immediate and our understanding of justice within that very limited context, which can solve problems and lead to better societies, but it will never cure existence. Hegel valued conflict because it led to new levels of spirit (truth), yet we experience conflict in its immediacy and are not afforded hindsight or wisdom until it exists as something abstract or out of context.
So how do I instill passion in my heart for societal change, when societal change ignores the chains of the individual? The psychology of existence is never conquered. We are so creative with self-expression and are constantly in the midst of our plight. Existence is a curse which inspires beauty. We create our own cures, but are incapable of that one important cure. Marx envisioned a world in which philosophy no longer existed because it would be externalized and concrete, there would be no more questions to ask. But from where I stand right now, philosophy will always be required.
“we fought for a decade, corruption and greed
it gave me a purpose, a reason to breathe
but now that it’s over, now that we’ve won
i still sit in my bedroom, alone with a shot gun”–pedro the lion