Whenever someone utters the word, ‘philosopher,’ most people think of Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Baruch Spinoza, Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and so on. But I would argue that there is a philosopher that has had a much greater impact on modern history than any of these gents. His name is Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
Hegel was fascinated with the idea of conflict in thought, as in, self vs. other; authority vs. freedom; knowledge vs. faith, etc. He felt that the human mind was the only place where the different stages of these conflicts could exist simultaneously, forming a mélange that made up the individual’s worldview. This conflict between a thesis and an antithesis forms a synthesis that incorporates elements of both; Hegel called this phenomenon ‘dialectic,’ which comes from the Greek word dialektikē, which means ‘art of debate.’
When applied to world events, the Hegellian Dialectic can be used to intelligently observe conflicting ideologies and accurately predict or even influence the conflicts’ outcomes. The well-positioned string-puller – Aristotle Onassis or the Carlyle Group, say – can even benefit by aiding both sides in the conflict.
A number of private organizations have been established for the purpose of doing just that. The Trilateral Commission, The Bilderberg Group, Skull and Bones, Council on Foreign Relations and other more obscure organizations exist to control the debate – to prevail no matter which choice is made by the masses. Whether the masses choose the liberal, anti-war candidate (Kerry) or the conservative hawk (Bush), the winner is an insider – a member of the club. If the winner fucks up, the way Bush has, the masses go running into the arms of the other guy – in this case, John Kerry, or, more accurately, his running mate, John Edwards.
It’s good cop-bad cop. Target or Wal-Mart. Coke or Pepsi. No matter which one is chosen, the power structure that produced the choice triumphs, and outsiders lose.
It is interesting to note, for example, that lumber baron Frederick Weyerhaeuser and early environmentalist Gifford Pinchot were both Skull and Bones members, as, of course, were 2004 presidential campaign rivals John Kerry and George W. Bush. Arch conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and “New Democrat” Bill Clinton each got early political boosts following visits to the Bilderberg Group. And Cecil Rhodes’ scholarship fund, established – according his will – for the purpose of “the extension of British rule throughout the world,” has aided such conservative stalwarts as CIA director R. James Woolsey and Supreme Court Justice David Souter and such noted liberals as Kris Kristofferson, Bill Bradley and Strobe Talbott.
But these organizations weren’t established out of some diabolical desire to rule the world; on the contrary, the impulse was altruistic. It’s just that from the relatively narrow perspective of the early bankers and industrialists, the masses – especially the non-white ones – needed guidance that only their superior intellects could provide. As Carroll Quigley observes in Tragedy and Hope, these “were gracious and cultured gentlemen of somewhat limited social experience who were much concerned with the freedom of expression of minorities and the rule of law for all, who constantly thought in terms of Anglo-American solidarity, of political partition and federation, and who were convinced that they could gracefully civilize the Boers of South Africa, the Irish, the Arabs, and the Hindus, and who are largely responsible for the partitions of Ireland, Palestine, and India, as well as the federations of South Africa, Central Africa, and the West Indies.” So, it seems today’s predicament is more a failure of good intentions than a design of bad ones. But that doesn’t make things any better for us. If anything, it makes things worse because it is so difficult to tell where the incompetence ends and the shameless profiteering begins. Exacerbating matters is the fact that the bankers and industrialists who started this scam are long gone, and in their place is a coterie of shallow thinkers who are in every way inferior to their predecessors.
The latest incarnation of the Hegellian Dialectic is the sudden effort by Democrats to capitalize from the Bush Administration’s blunders in Iraq. First, war profiteer Dianne Feinstein tells Wolf Blitzer she was duped into supporting the war. Next, former vice presidential candidate and Bilderberg guest John Edwards declares he “was wrong” to support the war in Iraq. What we the people are supposed to believe is that voting the Democrats back into office will constitute a real change in leadership, but nothing could be further from the truth.
As Quigley famously opined, “The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies – one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left – is a foolish idea. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. The policies that are vital and necessary for America are no longer subjects of significant disagreement, but are disputable only in detail, procedure, priority, or method.”
So, while the voting half of the republic argues about pointless side issues like gun control and abortion, the corporate locomotive chugs along unhindered. The tragedy isn’t simply that the electoral process into which so many have invested their aspirations is a hoax; the tragedy is that things like the environment, education, healthcare and true human progress – if considered at all – are merely done so as products that generate profits for two wings of the same corporate power structure. I doubt if that was what Hegel had in mind.