The Hegelian Dialectic Of Capitalism And Socialism In The American Bureaucracy

Socialism may be impossible yet it is unavoidable and must occur in cycles of reform with Capitalism. In the Hegelian theory of dialectical materialism of existence, critique and synthesis in remedy and solution, Capitalism is destroyed in part periodically by Socialist reform and then reborn again. In the United States, Capitalism is structurally restrained by bureaucratic reforms based upon theories of the public interest, nationalism and the commonweal, all theories of Socialist empathy.

The U.S. Constitution creates three branches of government: the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. The President, as a modern Executive, is empowered with an enormous regulatory bureaucracy which is overseen in a manner of checks and balances by the other two branches. This modern bureaucratic state has placed upon the private sector a primary motive of being that departs from the for-profit motive of Capitalism and imposes that of ensuring legal compliance. In a complex era of high technology and big industry, this Socialist leaning is unavoidable if Capitalism is to survive. And, such regulation, though democratic and Capitalistic in spirit and theory, is Socialist in result.

This dualism, the points along a continuum of Capitalism and Socialism, in the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel, is humankind’s striving toward the absolute freedom of the species in actualization of an unknown Idea, the consummation of evolution. Regardless of one’s belief in the source or definition of the Idea, humans evolve incrementally, improving life in their community. The various elements of the community each evolve along the Hegelian dialectic from existence to critique to synthetic improvement. The many elements include: religion, science, philosophy, art, literature and education. An additional element is the economic Capitalist-Socialist continuum which evolves in dialectical form and is expressed in the governing structure of the community.

Through rational, reasoned reform of its Capitalist governing structure overtime, America has achieved its current bureaucratic state. This bureaucratic state is currently in a period of contraction, with the undoing of some Socialist theories and returning to earlier thoughts of Capitalism. Much of the current trend toward a rebirth of Capitalism is a result of new technology and the creativity it has inspired in the area of commerce. Entrepreneurs are emerging in all business sectors. Americans who enjoy new goods and services and a sense of patriotism economic creativity engenders ask for reforms in government to facilitate further business development.

The current expression in America of this phenomenon, of a demand for government and economic creativity, is not a full destructive critique of Socialist expressions in the American government and economy. Rather, it is an expression of the Janus dualism in human nature. As history indicates, humans are innately inquisitive and acquisitively self-interested. Humans as a species are also affectionate and emphatic. From the beginning of Colonial America until the current presidency, America has evolved in cycles of “boom and bust,” high surges in Capitalist creativity and profit absent imposing regulation to despairs of economic failure and the lessening burden of governmental business safe harbors and social safety nets. This is an example of the philosophical construct of dialectical materialism.

In example, the legislature acts in response to changes in popular will with developments in human history. Citizens ask for a repeal of burdensome laws in times of business prosperity and, in turn, for social measures in times of hardship. Unlike legislators, judges are bound by codes of ethics to abide the rule of law first and foremost as it embodies theories of democracy, fairness and justice. These theories should be immutable regardless of the nature of economic times, regardless of boom or bust. So, to what do we attribute judicial repeal of time honored legal precedent, especially when these changes in the law coincidentally parallel new economic events and changes in popular will?

Judges exercise independent judgment absent partisanship. Yet, in the spirit of Ludwig von Mises and great thinkers from time immemorial, judges acknowledge the essential qualities of human nature – self-interest, greed, empathy and affection. So, too, judicial opinions reflect changes in history and socio-economic developments over time which avail themselves of the Hegelian dialectic as expressed in Capitalist and Socialist theory. An essential question exists as to whether the judiciary must respond to the import of the human creativity these qualities produce and the effect of human creativity upon the community the judiciary governs?

The American public should discuss the nature of governmental reform as expressed by changes in rights and privileges incumbent within the rule of law. The primary focus is the Hegelian dialectic of the Capitalist-Socialist continuum.

Colonial America expressed the dialectical continuum with the beginning point of the existence of the individual rights possessed by Native Americans. The discoverers of the New World were encouraged by developments in the means of maritime travel to conquer the Native Americans and, in Capitalist fashion, usurp their property in a theory of survival of the fittest. Yet, the Colonials stepped away from their own usurper, the English monarchy, through many acts and demands of social welfare, namely the survival of humans as individuals, possessing equal rights of individual self-governance and self-determination in a communal environment. The history of Colonial America is one of synthesis for England imposed tariffs as a large, usurpations government providing for English citizens. Yet, the Colonial and Early Americans, themselves, engaged in a Capitalist plantation economy with Socialist theories of paternalism in the maintenance of the institution of slavery and indentured servitude. Native Americans, even today, benefit from theories of Socialism.

The American Civil War began a critique of the Capitalism of the slave economy. It began with individuals forming the Underground Railroad and the act by predominately Northern slaveholders of permitting slaves to purchase their freedom through learning gainful labor or acts of unrestricted emancipation. The Socialist critique of the then existing Capitalist American economy consummated with the act by President Lincoln of emancipation.

In response, to newfound competition of Americans of African descent, the judicial opinion of Plessey v. Ferguson was issued imposing business restraints upon Black Americans. This, too, is a dualist, synthetic critique expressing Capitalist and Socialist theories. For, it provided a Socialist business subsidy to White Americans thereby encouraging competition at the expense of Black Americans. The Socialist correction was Brown v. Board of Education. Intervening was extensive public reform in the creation of the American Bureaucratic State in the form of the New Deal.

America continues the challenge of the bureaucratic state in the modern era. Much regulation is currently challenged to permit new forms of industry. The Hegelian dialectic provides material synthesis of contradiction and paradox to form new laws from new customs and new legal developments in the private sector of contract law and business formation.

The remedies proposed for the laws currently governing bureaucracies in America are equally along extreme points in a continuum. Some purveyors of conservative legal thought seek a return to theories of non-delegation which would extensively negate the power of Congress to delegate “legislative” power in the form of rulemaking to bureaucratic agencies. More liberal points of view on the continuum would support agencies by expressing great deference to their exercise of rulemaking and adjudicative powers owing to their expertise in highly specific subjects requiring centuries of experience.

In America, we rely upon the judiciary to honor a truly just midpoint along the Hegelian dialectic of Capitalist and Socialist reform. With the U.S. Constitution in place, we will never return to an economy that is too Capitalist or evolve into one that is too Socialist.

Lori Gayle Nuckolls

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