The state is the actuality of the ethical Idea. It is ethical mind qua the substantial will manifest and revealed to itself, knowing and thinking itself, accomplishing what it knows and in so far as it knows it. The state exists immediately in custom, mediately in individual self-consciousness, knowledge, and activity, while self-consciousness in virtue of its sentiment towards the state, finds in the state, as its essence and the end-product of its activity, its substantive freedom.I suspect that few of my liberal friends would be willing to sign off explicitly on this formulation. Yet I think that many of us act unconsciously on this basis.
The state is absolutely rational inasmuch as it is the actuality of the substantial will which it possesses in the particular self-consciousness once that consciousness has been raised to consciousness of its universality. This substantial unity is an absolute unmoved end in itself, in which freedom comes into its supreme right. On the other hand this final end has supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the state.
This notion has been simmering in my head for a long time. What brought it to a boil was a recent email exchange on one of my lists about pedophile priests in the Catholic church -- of all things.
Everybody nowadays deplores pedophilia, of course, and quite right too -- though Socrates might have had a slightly different take on the topic. But the hell with him; I have even less use for Socrates than people generally have for pedophilia.
What strikes me about the secular liberal's response -- and even the secular lefty's response -- to buggery in the rectory is that everybody seems to agree that the big scandal is that the bishops didn't call the cops. Not that the bishops didn't get the guy away from kids; not that they didn't drum him out of the priesthood; but that they didn't call the cops.
Now one of the amiable things about the Catholic Church, I have always thought, is its wonderfully mediaeval sense of standing outside the State, and maybe even above it. A certain skepticism about the State seems well-justified, to me.
Curiously, the Church's view of the State as a ramshackle, derivative, provisional, purely instrumental affair rather coincides with the Marxist/Leninist view, to the extent that I understand the latter. MLs certainly want to take the State over and use it for their own purposes; but they also see themselves as standing outside it and over against it.
The State has its uses -- I have called the cops myself, a few times, though the only time I was at all impressed by their response was the time they arrested me. But okay: purely as an instrument, the State may occasionally serve a constructive purpose. I grant the point. Theoretically.
But it seems sad to me that so many of my friends -- who were great skeptics about the State when we were young, and subject to the draft -- have fallen back into vulgar Hegelianism; to the point where calling the cops, more or less metaphorically, is more or less the answer to everything.
(Lemma: electoral politics is of course a special case of calling the cops -- to wit, calling the good cops, and hoping, hoping that they turn up instead of the bad cops.)
One of the interesting results of this mentality is that most liberals, as far as I can tell, strongly approve of all the laws we have now which turn certain classes of wage-laborers into ex officio police informants -- schoolteachers, for example, who are required, under severe penalties, to report all kinds of things pronto to the local precinct. This seems to me a rather startling abridgement of the citizen's liberty to exercise his own judgement and hold his tongue if he chooses; yet as far as I know, nobody objects to it.