The great individuals of world history … are those who seize upon th[e] higher universal and make it their own end. It is they who realise the end appropriate to the higher concept of the spirit. To this extent, they may be called heroes. They do not find their aims and vocation in the calm and regular system of the present, in the hallowed order of things as they are. Indeed, their justification does not lie in the prevailing situation, for they draw their inspiration from another source, from that hidden spirit whose hour is near but which still lies beneath the surface and seeks to break out without yet having attained an existence in the present. For this spirit, the present world is but a shell which contains the wrong kind of kernel. It might, however, be objected that everything which deviates from the established order — whether intentions, aims, opinions, or so-called ideals — is likewise different from what is already there. Adventures of all kinds have such ideals, and their activities are based on attitudes which conflict with the present circumstances. But the fact that all such attitudes, sound reasons, or general principles differ from existing ones does not mean to say that they are justified. The only true ends are those whose content has been produced by the absolute power of the inner spirit itself in the course of its development; and world-historical individuals are those who have willed and accomplished not just the ends of their own imagination or personal opinions, but only those which were appropriate and necessary. Such individuals know what is necessary and timely, and have an inner vision of what it is.
As a student of political theory I find myself asking why the left so often aligns itself with the philosopher GWF Hegel. Reading Hegel’s Philosophy of Right I am repeatedly struck by how his political conclusions seem to be the converse of those I thought a good leftist should espouse. Monarchy as the ideal regime; war warranted for the sake domestic peace; these are not ideas that I thought sat comfortably with the left. In the post that follows I look to Hegel’s work via a comparison with the more recent philosopher, Alexandre Kojève, who, at minimum, uses Hegel as a mouthpiece (if you want to argue that he doesn’t represent Hegel’s ideas with fidelity).