“It is just when we think we may be moving away from him (Hegel) that he is most likely to be sneaking up behind us.”
— Attributed to Jacques Lacan
“Nothing great has been accomplished in the world without passion.”
The Twentieth “short” century, to put it mildly, was a very disturbing era. Most notably it began with yet another European “thirty-years” war, the repercussions of which were to cost the lives of literally tens of millions throughout the globe. Even, if, in total percentage terms of casualties it is to some extent the equivalent of the worst of the all too frequent conflicts of tribal man; it nevertheless commands our deepest sorrow as well as intellectual, spiritual commitment to never let such like happen again.1Indeed, it is a moral, ethical, political duty, akin to Kant’s categorical imperative, to never let the worst of the human rights crimes of the past century repeat themselves.
Yet, like Hegel before me, I am in fundamental agreement with him that we must understand history as it is and not as we would have liked it to be. After all, to understand is not necessarily to condone. Of course this is but one interpretation of past events which the reader, in the end, can either accept, partially agree to, or reject altogether.
To be an Hegelian is to both practice a method and espouse a vision. The method is profoundly entwined with the practice of what I call “deep history” or what Hegel called “comprehended…