Uncivil Society: Hegel, Kojève, and the Crisis of Political Legitimacy

  • Adam Adatto Sandel
  • Julius Krein


Dissatisfaction with “the neoliberal policy consensus” has fueled the rise of “populist” parties and candidates around the world, Donald Trump being the foremost example. But what underlies this discontent? Hegel’s understanding of civil society and its proper relationship to the family and the state may provide an answer to this question. Specifically, neoliberal policies and attitudes are based upon a one-sided view of “work” and economic activity that erodes the dignity of the political community and its members. Both elites and non-elites are suffering from the cannibalization of the family and the colonization of the state by civil society, which produces social strain that goes well beyond economic anxieties. Furthermore, Kojève’s interpretation of Hegel, especially his understanding of the nature of authority, helps explain the distinctively political aspects of these developments. Neoliberalism, through its pursuit of increasing depoliticization, undermines its own sources of political legitimacy and ultimately reduces human relations to the application of force in the service of individual ends.

List of References

  1. Hamid, Shadi. 2016. The End of the End of History. Foreign Policy, November 15.
  2. Kojève, Alexandre. 2014. The Notion of Authority (A Brief Presentation), ed. Francois Terré, Trans. Hager Weslati. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Lakoff, George. 2016. Understanding the Allure of Trump. Berkeley Blog, University of California at Berkeley, August 1.
  4. Lerner, Sharon. 2011. Knocked Up and Knocked Down: Why America’s Widening Fertility Class Divide is a Problem. Slate, September 26.
  5. Trail, Thomas E., and Benjamin R. Karney. June 2012. What’s (Not) Wrong with Low-Income Marriages. Journal of Marriage and Family 74 (3): 413–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam Adatto Sandel
    • 1
  • Julius Krein
    • 1
  1. 1.American AffairsBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations