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The Rationality of Hegel's Concept of Monarchy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2014

Bernard Yack
Affiliation:
Harvard University

Abstract

In this essay I argue that Hegel's concept of monarchy, far from being more evidence of his supposed abstract rationalism or deference to Prussia, is the most complete modern account of the necessary political conditions of a rational state. Hegel believed that the peculiar historical development of European monarchy made the rational state politically possible. Who rules is the fundamental political problem. Some person or persons must have the final power of decision, even in constitutional and parliamentary regimes, and thus stamp the regime with their own particular views. Hegel believed that only the constitutional monarch of a modern state, bom to sovereignty regardless of his personal abilities or constituencies, limited by harsh experience and public sentiments to legitimization of public acts, could depoliticize this final power of decision. This alone would allow unimpeded public administration according to rational legal standards. Marxist and technocratic dreams of rational administration will remain mere dreams as long as the dreamers offer no alternative solution to the fundamental political problem.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 1980

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