don't know much about G.W.F. Hegel, but the one quote of his that
I always remember is "The State is as God walking on Earth". With
that memorable phrase in mind, I sought its context to get behind
the intent of the full quote as it is reproduced here from his
der Philosophie des Rechts:
state in and by itself is the ethical whole, the actualisation
of freedom; and it is an absolute end of reason that freedom should
be actual. The state is mind on earth and consciously realising
itself there. In nature, on the other hand, mind actualises itself
only as its own other, as mind asleep. Only when it is present
in consciousness, when it knows itself as a really existent object,
is it the state. In considering freedom, the starting-point must
be not individuality, the single self-consciousness, but only
the essence of self-consciousness; for whether man knows it or
not, this essence is externally realised as a self-subsistent
power in which single individuals are only moments. The march
of God in the world, that is what the state is.
the land of John Knox, we Calvinists love our technical sounding
theological terms such as soteriology, infralapsarianism and ontological
trinity; perhaps it makes what is essentially a simple faith sound
more academic and scientific. But when I considered Hegel's phraseology,
another term beloved of the sons of Knox came to mind Ė the incommunicable
attributes of God.
humans are created in the image of God is a Christian doctrine
that many are more familiar with than a phrase such as incommunicable
attributes; but they are two sides to the same Divine coin.
For in being made in Godís image, it is understood that somehow
man reflects qualities of God in the same way that a postmark
leaves a representation of the rubber stamp which made the impress.
These qualities are rightly deduced to be such virtues as love,
compassion, justice, mercy and creativity to name but a few.
as these qualities are able to be communicated to man, so it is
understood that there are certain attributes of God which cannot
be communicated to men and hence are called incommunicable attributes.
Amongst those commonly cited are Godís omniscience, omnipotence,
omnipresence, eternity and self-sufficiency.
we turn again to the realm of reasoning concerning the State,
the question is raised that if one person is made in the image
of God then what of a society as an aggregate of persons each
made in that image? Is the sum total which is potently expressed
in the State reckoned to be a corporate entity corporately made
in Godís image? When the State exercises justice and mercy, is
it fulfilling a Divine mandate or not?
answer, I propose, is that it is fulfilling such a mandate but
not in the way most presume for it is a mandate of quality as
opposed to function. In other words, just as one person should
display such communicable attributes within their sphere of responsibility
and influence, then so should any earthly institution within
their sphere of responsibility and influence.
other words, the call to be compassionate does not imply that
the State is compelled to set up the Welfare system. But it does
compel it to be compassionate in its sphere of enforcing laws
on behalf of the hungry from whom evil men steal the last piece
of bread. And it does compel it to be compassionate when the very
same laws mercifully consider the same hungry one who steals the
bread from the altar lest they die.
Divine wall firmly encloses duties round about but above the skies
of compassion go as far as the eye can see.
State may indeed be Godís delegate for a particular duty at a
particular time and place but when the modern State attempts to
take upon itself the incommunicable attributes of God then
there is a monstrosity in the making.
consider the omniscience of God and the pretence the State makes
to this unattainable goal. Thanks to the massive storage and access
capabilities of computers, the State has within its grasp all
knowledge within its self-appointed horizons. Like God, the State
has access to information about us which we can only guess at
or have long forgotten or lost.
as the eyes of God run to and fro across the Earth beholding the
deeds of men, so the State aspires to an omnipresence which allows
it to be present in every CCT camera or hidden wiretap. From the
feared ubiquity of an army of hidden informers in a Stalinist
country to the sophistication of supercomputers tirelessly scanning
untold myriads of emails, the State strives to be as God where
God does not intend.
from a pretended omnipresence and omniscience proceeds a delusional
omnipotence which has wreaked havoc and murder across the centuries
in the hands of the basest of men. And if the State muses that
the searing shock wave of its fusion blasts are akin to the breath
of God and that it has become the Shatterer of worlds in the words
of Oppenheimer then surely the time for change has come.
from its presumption that, like God in eternity, it will never
pass away we see an attribute it can never aspire to emulate and
that is self-sufficiency. The theologian states that God has no
need of anyone or anything to sustain Him, but the State is a
parasite which dies with the last willing taxpayer. Turn off the
supply of tax dollars and gilt-edged securities and this creature
dies a death and is cast to the dogs.
lies the solution. Only that which is self-sufficient can claim
deification. Hegel watched as one god in Napoleonic France overthrew
another in the Prussians. His dialecticism attempted to synthesise
a State which objectified Absolute Truth and which could on the
one hand avoid a centralised slavedom but also eschew the antinomianism
of unbridled hedonism.
never saw that day that he may have rejoiced. We look for another
day to dawn in which men are free to conduct their affairs unfettered
by the bureaucrat and powermonger. And as a Christian Libertarian,
my desire is that true Omnipotence will reserve such a day for