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September 20th, 2007
The Hegelian Dialectic
photo credit: wackocatho
Are you a conservative or a liberal? Do you classify yourself with these (or similar) epithets?
What is the difference between conservatives and liberals?
Noah Webster, a brilliant Founding Father, master of twenty-six languages, and author of the first American dictionary (published in 1828) once said when referring to the Bible:
“In the lapse of two or three centuries, changes have taken place which, in particular passages, … obscure the sense of the original languages…. The effect of these changes is that some words are not understood … and being now used in a sense different from that which they had … present wrong signification of the false ideas. Whenever words are understood in a sense different from that which they had when introduced… mistakes may be very injurious.” (Noah Webster, via Quoty)
This same etymological metamorphosis has occurred throughout the English language. Today, many words carry a meaning far different from their original intent.
So what exactly is a ‘conservative’ or a ‘liberal’? Is a ‘liberal’ today different from one two centuries ago? Do these labels accurately reflect the values and beliefs of each person who so classifies themselves?
Why does this back-and-forth struggle for power continue in our system—the very “spirit of party” that President Washington warned us of in his farewell address—whether between conservatives and liberals or Republicans and Democrats? What purpose does it serve? What are the consequences of such battles?
Nancy Levant opines on this issue:
What does it mean to be “conservative?” What does it mean to be “liberal?” Furthermore, who invented the contemporary definitions of political conservatism and liberalism? I will tell you who defined them — your television sets and their talking heads, which are owned, operated, and forced to say what their elite owner’s pay them to say. Hence, you now have 2 political parties, which have been totally “re-created” by corporately owned media to 1) relay to you your political opinions, and 2) to insist upon your political illusions. Herein lies the problem; you don’t really know or understand your political opinions, as they have been “manufactured” for you for decades. Furthermore, there is not one iota of difference between Democrat and Republican ideologies. Our belief in ideological differences has played us like cheap violins AND grew and implanted the one-world government directly beneath our nation and noses.
Does this view hold any water? Has the media had a notable impact on political ideologies and platforms? Have such opinions been manufactured for the citizenry?
Levant continues in her article illustrating how both conservatives and liberals have rescinded their label as Americans, allowing the talking heads and unprincipled politicians to drive our government toward socialism, communitarianism, and world government.
This process is known as the “Hegelian dialectic”.
The Hegelian dialectic is a process through which two opposing viewpoints or ideals arrive at some consensus, a veritable “middle ground”. One side, “thesis”, is at opposition with the other side, “antithesis”. Through the dialectic process the two sides capitulate and agree to a “synthesis”, a sort of meld between their two opposing view points—a compromise.
As the following graphic illustrates, the process continues over and over, leading each continuing thesis and antithesis to meet at some synthesis, pushing the agreements in one continual direction.
Much like the balance effect, the Hegelian dialectic moves society in a single direction, often one that has been planned and sought after. In our era, that end goal is communitarianism, socialism, and central planning. Individual liberty and self-governance is squandered as government largess continues to balloon and invade every facet of our lives.
The question then follows, who pre-determines the direction society is to move? Who crafts the thesis and antithesis in order to push us towards a synthesis? Why are we so blind to this gradual shift in policy and values that we do not see that both sides of the aisle have caused our erosion of personal liberty and stewardship?
Make no mistake: politicians claiming to adhere to completely opposite viewpoints and morals are aiding those who strive to push America towards a predetermined synthesis.
The antidote for the Hegelian dialetic is a difficult one—one that most people renounce and oppose: idealism. The dialectic is only enabled through compromise of ideals and capitulation of values. In our recent progressive and continually pluralistic society, traditional values and moral-based stances are frowned upon and ridiculed. It is because of this that otherwise good men lower their standards, yield to opposing forces, and narrow their vision.
America was founded—and its Declaration of Independence made to the world—because of a desire to shun the antithesis and provide each citizen a true thesis of limited government, individual liberty, and personal stewardship.
Whether self-proclaimed conservatives or liberals, we should all be Americans first. We should all renounce the “spirit of party” that plagues our society and divides us into ideological opposites, for this fosters the Hegelian dialectic and leads our nation to the desired objectives of an elite few. “We the people” must refuse such a process and infuse the political process once again with principle-based patriotism.
18 Responses to “The Hegelian Dialectic”
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Connor, you need to realize that Hegel’s logic workes both ways, though. Your thesis (idealism) is someone else’s antithesis, and as you interact with them, you influence their evolving synthesis for good. I do not doubt that there are fingers on strings somewhere, and I am not disagreeing with your central theme, but take courage, the logical process of dialectic, to which I am somewhat partial, is not an inescapable current–it can also be a tool.
As for the political parties and their professed ideals (word used in the loosest manner possible), I, too, agree that the parties and platforms are little more than manufactured myths these days, and that is why I refuse to ally myself with either (/any) of them.
There is ntohing conservative in the Republicans’ governmental practices. There is nothing liberal in the Democrats’ objectives. The names are little more than arifacts, behind which lie the same old insecurities of any group reaching power and their desperate attempts to claw at it and keep it.
Of course the timeless classics in answer to Connor’s question:
can be found in Noam Chomsky’s books, “Manufacturing Consent,” “Necessary Illusions,” and “Deterring Democracy.”
An excerpt from “Manufacturing Consent”
“The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.
In countries where the levers of power are in the hands of a state bureaucracy, the monopolistic control over the media, often supplemented by official censorship, makes it clear that the media serve the ends of a dominant elite. It is much more difficult to see a propaganda system at work where the media are private and formal censorship is absent. This is especially true where the media actively compete, periodically attack and expose corporate and governmental malfeasance, and aggressively portray themselves as spokesmen for free speech and the general community interest. What is not evident (and remains undiscussed in the media) is the limited nature of such critiques, as well as the huge inequality in command of resources, and its effect both on access to a private media system and on its behavior and performance.
A propaganda model focuses on this inequality of wealth and power and its multilevel effects on mass-media interests and choices. It traces the routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public. The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news “filters,” fall under the following headings: (I) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms; (~) advertising as the primary income source of the mass media; (3) the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and “experts” funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power; (4) “flak” as a means of disciplining the media; and (5) “anticommunism” as a national religion and control mechanism. These elements interact with and reinforce one another. The raw material of news must pass through successive filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print. They fix the premises of discourse and interpretation, and the definition of what is newsworthy in the first place, and they explain the basis and operations of what amount to propaganda campaigns.
The elite domination of the media and marginalization of dissidents that results from the operation of these filters occurs so naturally that media news people, frequently operating with complete integrity and goodwill, are able to convince themselves that they choose and interpret the news “objectively” and on the basis of professional news values. Within the limits of the filter constraints they often are objective; the constraints are so powerful, and are built into the system in such a fundamental way, that alternative bases of news choices are hardly imaginable. In assessing the newsworthiness of the U.S. government’s urgent claims of a shipment of MIGs to Nicaragua on November 5, I984, the media do not stop to ponder the bias that is inherent in the priority assigned to government-supplied raw material, or the possibility that the government might be manipulating the news, imposing its own agenda, and deliberately diverting attention from other material. It requires a macro, alongside a micro- (story-by-story), view of media operations, to see the pattern of manipulation and systematic bias.”
I’m just excited that my kid can use the words “etymological metamorphosis” in a sentence!!!
As a student of politics, I gotta say that this does not apply to a good number of people, but it does apply to probably the majority, Nietzsche’s “herd.”
Also it is rather insulting, because it presupposes that people can’t rationally think for themselves over issues and choose clearly what it is they want. Our society may have moved in one way or another, but unfortunately for you and Nancy Levant, it is not at the instigation of one or two individuals, Skowsen’s Elitist Billionaires. There is such a thing as an invisible hand moving politics this way or that. There is a reason why there is so much anger in politics. The nation moves in directions that will never make everybody happy. Sometimes one group is happy with the direction but the other group hates it. Then the opposite occurs. Then something in between. Politics cannot be described in such simplistic terms as the Hegelian Dialectic. It is far more complex than that, especially as Naiah stated, your own “idealistic” positing is someone else’s anti-thesis. And there you fall for your own Hegelian dialectic.
You are trying to posit that there is possibly something above the fray. That’s like an anthropologist pretending he is above the fray as he observes “natives” in their natural habitat. What the anthropologist (and you) don’t get is that there is no above the fray. It does not exist while on this earth. Anything you add in your conversation expands the fray. It doesn’t move you above it, below it, or through it.
No doubt it has. But something interesting happens along the way. The people push back. Notice last week’s attempt to bamboozle Americans into further support of Bush’s failed war. The Washington Elite Pundits were out in full force trying to force Petraeus’ lie on the public. But the public did not buy it. In fact, the number of Americans who wanted soldiers home went UP after Petraeus’ testimony.
See this is where you fall into your own trap, Connor. Instead of staying above the fray (which is impossible) you instead take a cheap shot at something which doesn’t really have anything to do with the main point of your argument here. This Hegelian Dialect does not lead one towards Socialism, Communism and World Government, as much as you would like anything bad in this world to lead to those -isms you despise so much.
What you don’t seem to get is that no one is immune on this earth. No ideology is immune from bad things. There is no perfect ideology. None. Not one. Our religion is not an ideology. We do not understand our religion enough to create a system of governance that will effectively work without leading to major problems, just like all the rest of the ideologies out there. Libertarianism has many major and very serious problems (personally their lack of Christ-like love for others is a killer for me). Conservatism loves the police state far too much, is too concerned with regulating morality to be anything viable. Liberalism tries too hard to make everybody happy. Socialism posits the state as religion. And so on. Not a single one of them is perfect.
Predetermined by whom? Com’on, spill the beans. Don’t speak in innuendo without stating clearly exactly what you are saying.
NO they are not! You want to know what is ridiculed? The attempt to regulate those morals based on one particular interpretation of how those morals should be regulated. That is what is being ridiculed, NOT the actual morals themselves. You know what else is actually ridiculed? Those who pretend they are “moral” and then go purchase a prostitute, or hide their homosexuality in airport bathrooms. That is what is ridiculed. What kind of “moral” men are these who pretend to be someone they are not and expect others to live by those standards? That is what is being ridiculed.
This ends up being a straw man, because when you get down to the nitty gritty details, what you find is that liberal leaning states actually do far better at family values than those states and the people who reside in them that publicly flaunt their morality. Look at the statistics. Compare a Massachusetts to a Texas and you’ll find more divorces per capita in Texas than in Massachusetts. You’ll find better education in Massachusetts (by far) than in Texas. And so on.
It is not the morals that are ridiculed, but the hypocrisy. It gets so tiresome.
Well, that’s quite a high inference on what the Founders really were intending, but hey, you can believe whatever you want.
This is probably your worst statement of the entire piece, Connor. Here you talk about being “above the fray” but then you get political. No, we should not be Americans first. First and foremost above all else, we should be children of God. Men should be honorable holders of the priesthood, above and beyond anything else of this world. America is not eternal. It is transitory. It isn’t even a perfect system. Why ask us to have our loyalty first to an imperfect system?
Then why did you denounce socialism, communism earlier in your piece? Is that not partisan? Or is partisan merely when conservatives and libertarians are being criticized by dastardly liberals?
Dan asks: Predetermined by whom? Com’on, spill the beans. Don’t speak in innuendo without stating clearly exactly what you are saying.
I will give my 2 cents on your question. The ones who are doing the predetermining are the Secret Combinations we are warned to watch out for in Ether chapter 8.
…the logical process of dialectic, to which I am somewhat partial, is not an inescapable current–it can also be a tool.
This pattern is interesting to me—the use of a tool or tactic for both good and evil. Take the internet, for example. This tool has created marvelous advances in technology, including family history work, while it also is permeated with filth. It’s interesting to see how something can be used by opposing forces to suit their own purposes.
And so, I think you are right. The dialectic process can be used for good as well, striving to push society in the right direction. Observational analysis, however, would lead one to believe that society isn’t headed in the right direction. Our “traditional” values are continually shunned by a progressive people seeking liberation from chastity and virtue, and so we move to the left as the years go by. Granted, not every shift is in the negative/left direction, but it seems to me that that’s the overall case.
The names are little more than artifacts, behind which lie the same old insecurities of any group reaching power and their desperate attempts to claw at it and keep it.
Very well said!
As a student of politics, I gotta say that this does not apply to a good number of people, but it does apply to probably the majority, Nietzsche’s “herd.”
This raises an interesting question. Would your political ideals be the same had you not been raised in the family you were, gone to the school you did, and been surrounded by the environment you have been? Would mine be different if I wasn’t raised LDS?
No doubt we are in large part a product of the external stimuli to which we are exposed. That stimuli is engineered, then, by those seeking to manufacture political opinions and ideals of those vulnerable and open to being carried about by every wind of doctrine.
Also it is rather insulting, because it presupposes that people can’t rationally think for themselves over issues and choose clearly what it is they want.
In a culture of sound bytes and slogans, I don’t find this hard to believe. Often when I have political discussions with people, I’m fed a regurgitation of what they heard on Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or the Daily Show. I guess that people outsource their intellectual exertions to talking heads and political pundits who do it for them.
It is far more complex than that, especially as Naiah stated, your own “idealistic” positing is someone else’s anti-thesis. And there you fall for your own Hegelian dialectic.
Heavenly Father’s thesis is Satan’s antithesis. Does that mean that the thesis is incorrect or unworthy of our full support? Should we compromise? Did Jesus? No. He refused to talk to Satan, and told him to get behind Him. No compromise, no middle ground. No synthesis.
What the anthropologist (and you) don’t get is that there is no above the fray. It does not exist while on this earth.
And so a Prophet commenting on “the fray” (please define this term to convey your meaning) is himself in the fray? Is anything he says, then, subject to the conditions and circumstances that the fray possess? Your argument seems to imply that there is no absolute truth able to be sought after, but instead that in a culture of relativism and opposing ideals, nobody can truly possess a “thesis”.
I’d love to reply to the rest of your comment, but I’m heading down to AZ for the weekend now. Perhaps when I return. 🙂
Well I figured as much. I was looking for specifics. Give me names, please. Com’on. Stop hiding behind the innuendo.
Stop hiding behind the innuendo.
Dan, I suppose you would consider it innuendo when Moroni did the same thing? 🙂
We are indeed a product of the environment we live in.
This presupposes that there is a monopoly on the power to manufacture political opinions and ideals. Puhlease! The world is far more complex than that. Seriously, you gotta let go of Skowsen’s Elitist Billionaire Conspirators, Connor. They don’t exist. Not as he incorrectly described them.
But Connor, don’t you see, you have not shown that you follow God’s thesis. Sure you quote prophets, but I quote prophets too that speak differently than the prophets you quote. Quoting prophets does not automatically make you following God’s “thesis.”
Huh, if I recall correctly, Jesus talked with Satan when Satan tempted him. And he didn’t tell Satan to “get behind me.” He told Peter that! It was Peter who tempted him, and Jesus called Peter Satan. Go and reread that verse.
A prophet is a man, born in the same environment we all live in. He is no different (and no better) than any one of us. The only real difference between you, me and a prophet is that the Lord called him to be his spokesman. That calling obviously deserves respect, but not absolute fealty. I’m sorry. Especially when it comes to politics. You can’t tell me that President Hinckley’s War and Peace talk didn’t sound like neo-conservatism to you. Read again his talk very carefully. I’m sure you can pick out the neo-conservative talking points. Ezra Taft Benson had a strange fixation on anything even remotely close to communism, even benign liberalism. I don’t think he realized it but all his political talk undermined his spiritual points.
There is absolute truth, but beyond a few of them that have been revealed to us, we know little about them. What is an absolute truth? That Heavenly Father is God. That Jesus Christ is his Son and the Creator, Redeemer and Judge of this world. That the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is God’s kingdom on the earth. That we are children of God, created in his image and likeness with the ultimate potential to be Gods ourselves. There are a few others, but beyond these, we don’t know many things absolutely, and we shouldn’t state that we do.
Um, Moroni lived 1600 years ago. While he was shown our day, I highly doubt he could have described it well. Think of John the Revelator, and of others back in those days and their attempts to describe today’s world.
You have no excuse Connor. If you wish to lay a charge against someone, then do so. Otherwise, stick with the facts. 😉
They don’t exist. Not as he incorrectly described them.
This statement suggests that I buy into all of that. Quite the assumptions.
And besides, this statement again raises Carissa’s question. How do you know they don’t exist? How do you know Skousen wasn’t right? What evidence do you have that categorically refutes any such a possibility?
But Connor, don’t you see, you have not shown that you follow God’s thesis.
Obeying, supporting, and defending the Constitution is indeed God’s thesis for our government at this time.
And he didn’t tell Satan to “get behind me.” He told Peter that! It was Peter who tempted him, and Jesus called Peter Satan.
You’re right, my mistake. I meant to cite the verse where he says “Get thee hence, Satan”.
Huh, if I recall correctly, Jesus talked with Satan when Satan tempted him.
They were talking, but Jesus’ words were simply refutations of everything Satan said. They weren’t talking in an effort to come to terms, or find middle ground. Jesus was denying and dismissing Satan each time.
You can’t tell me that President Hinckley’s War and Peace talk didn’t sound like neo-conservatism to you.
Why yes, yes I can. And so can others, as has already been hashed out on this blog.
I don’t think he realized it but all his political talk undermined his spiritual points.
Wow, that’s quite the accusation.
Okay, now I really must get going. Back on Monday.
Dan, I think there are multiple Secret Combinations, all different, working in the shadows, but all with a common commander – Satan and his followers. I could name a few of the ones I think who are behind such; International banks, CFR, CIA, Wall Street, Military Industrial Complex, etc. I think you get the idea. There are others, I think Skull and Bones fits in there also. All these seem to have one goal, get power for themselves at the expense of the rest of God’s children.
I forget which one of your readers recommended I read Skowsen and the researcher from whom he got his “information.” I forget his name now. But this researcher had connections with the “in” crowd and his research showed that indeed there were billionaires trying to direct the world in one direction or the other, but this researcher’s evidence showed that these billionaires were 1) not hell bent on dominating the world, and 2) weren’t very good at what they were doing. Skowsen’s thesis doesn’t do anything to counter this conclusion. He can’t. He did not have the access to these so called billionaire conspirators. He cannot do anything but suppose. As such his theories do not have much credibility, except for those who have a tendency to accept conspiracy theories regardless of the evidence.
No doubt there are secret combinations today. What is your evidence that those institutions you name are “secret combinations.” I can see why you pick the CIA and the Military Industrial Complex, and of course the Skull and Bones, but CFR? Wall Street? International Banks? What is your evidence?
Furthermore, I’m reading Titan, Ron Suskind’s biography of John Rockefeller, the world’s first billionaire. One thing I am taking from Rockefeller’s life is that he did the things he did because he felt he had a better way of running an oil business (and based on his competitors in Ohio and Pennsylvania at the beginning, he was right). Does that make him in league with Satan?
You gotta be careful about who you are saying is in a “secret combination.” You are basically saying to this or that person or organization that they are in league with Satan.
Connor: Your post points out the need to be aware of the process that Hegel outlines, in order to keep the purity of truth from being corrupted. I would also be interested in a discussion of the step-child of the Hegelian Dialectic, Marx’s Dialectical Materialism.
It seems very relevant today, as we are being inundated with so many facets of this message. A perfect example is the word ideologue. I had heard it used as an epithet in the media, and so I looked up its definition. The Merriam-Webster dictionary refers to it as an “impractical idealist”. Curious, I looked it up in other dictionaries and found that Random House Dictionary defines it as “a person who zealously advocates an ideology”. Both have negative connotations, right?
Well the American Heritage dictionary defines it at “An advocate of a particular ideology, especially an official exponent of that ideology.” The Princeton Wordnet site lists it as “an advocate of some ideology”. What I find extremely interesting is the change in definition I was able to observe in Webster’s books. Online, Webster has it defined as “a zealous exponent or advocate of a specified ideology”, but when I look at my old Webster’s New
World Dictionary from 1980, it is defined as “an exponent of a specified ideology”.
It seems that in 20 years an ideologue has gone from being someone who supports an ideology, to a zealot, an impractical idealist.
I think this is the result of both the Hegelian process, and the advancing of dialectical materialism in this country. Mao clearly explained that ideology was the enemy of communism, and is to be done away with through a dialectical process and ultimately through a communist government.
If you look at how our language has been corrupted over the last fifty years, you will see the pattern. The word socialism itself is another example of this. It has become taboo, and even insulting to refer to any politician as a socialist, even though they clearly advocate socialist policies. In fact, we have been a socialist country in varying degrees since the progressive era, and yet, we have been told over and over that this is simply not true.
The media has been instrumental in these sorts of changes. I keep thinking of the interview with Aldous Huxley in which he said (back in the days of black and white tv) that everything was in place to have a controlled society like he described in brave new world. That capacity has only increased since then.
Think about it…
Interestingly, the word ‘ideologue’ was not included in Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary. I suppose it has more recent origins (and connotations).
Yes, you are correct. It is listed in the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary as originating in 1815, and being taken from the french word idéologue.
My point in bringing up the word was the way in which the idea of adhering to an ideology is being turned into a social/political liability. Even President Clinton was hailed as a pragmatist. And remember, he was called “one of our greatest presidents ever” by Al Gore, after all…