In Hegel’s Rabble, Frank Ruda identifies and explores a crucial problem in the Hegelian philosophy of right that strikes at the heart of Hegel’s conception of. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. Ruda, Frank. Hegel’s rabble: an investigation into Hegel’s Philosophy of right I. Frank Ruda; with a preface. Frank Ruda, Hegel’s Rabble: An Investigation into Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. London: Continuum, ISBN (hbk).

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In both his early Jena-era Philosophy fran Spirit and later Berlin-period Philosophy of RightHegel highlights perhaps the sole problem for which he does not offer a solution.

Hegel’s Rabble: An Investigation into Hegel’s Philosophy of Right by Frank Ruda

With frznk solid grasp of British economics and the modern political economies of his time, one of the many fashions in which Hegel paves the way for Marxism consists in his realization that bourgeois industrial capitalism inevitably creates, as one of its necessary by-products, an ever-growing mass of immiserated people hurled into hopeless poverty. The objective alienation of this aggregate of dispossessed and disenfranchised poor, relentlessly produced without mercy by the mechanisms and machines of industrialization, creates the conditions for a rabbble alienation embodied by the rabble, with its hostile attitude to the rest of society and brute sense of indignant entitlement.

Moreover, on Hegel’s assessment, no modern society yet appears to be willing and able adequately to address this internally generated self-undermining factor of rabble-rousing impoverishment.

Without doing so, these historically youthful franm systems are at risk of destroying themselves sooner or later.

Hence, rather than marking a pseudo-Hegelian “end of history,” such societies, Hegel insinuates, have a very uncertain future ahead of them. As is common knowledge, the preface to the Philosophy of Right characterizes philosophy as “the Owl of Minerva” which spreads its wings solely at dusk, when the deeds and happenings of the day are done. Given that the problem of the rabble is underscored in the text prefaced by these very remarks, the radical leftist Hegelian conclusion that, even for the author of the Philosophy of Rightcapitalism faces the prospect of eventually doing fatal violence to itself at its own hands is hardly unreasonable as a defensible exegesis of Hegel’s socio-political thinking.

The defensibility of this is further reinforced substantially by the fact that Hegel, also in the preface to the Philosophy of Rightexplicitly stipulates that the ability of philosophy to sublate the material of its times in thoughts signals the entering into decay and dissolution of the realities thus sublated; the sun must be setting when the wise owl takes flight.

Consequently and by his own lights, Hegel’s capacity to distill the essence of capitalist modernity heralds that the bourgeois social order of his age already is on its way off the stage of history.


Jacob Blumenfeld, Frank Ruda, Hegel’s Rabble – PhilPapers

Periodically in the mainstream Hegel scholarship of the past several decades, aspects of the above have received attention and commentary. However, a number of ruea of Frank Ruda’s outstanding study set it apart from its predecessors. To begin with, instead of treating the rabble merely as a curious sub-component of the Philosophy of RightRuda elevates it to a central position in Hegel’s socio-political philosophy, inextricably intertwined with the entirety of the sprawling Hegelian system even with such hegrl unrelated, far-flung moments as the depiction of matter in the Philosophy of Naturethe characterization of habit in the “Philosophical Anthropology” of the Philosophy of Spirit and the logical treatment of the modalities of necessity and contingency.

Put differently, for Ruda, the rabble is a marker for a political problem irresolvable within the parameters of political philosophy. This thesis is of a piece with Ruda’s quite convincing efforts to reduce the gap between Hegel and Marx by showing how the former, even in his particular rabbld, already foreshadowed the latter more than is usually acknowledged by either Hegelians or Hebel.

Marx’s ostensibly anti-Hegelian recasting of the relations and priorities of philosophy and politics with respect to one another is, on this interpretation, actually a consequent extrapolation from Hegel’s framing of these topics in the Philosophy of Right.

Hegel’s Rabble: An Investigation into Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

In collective orders organized around the casino-like anarchy of the marketplace, anyone is, at a minimum, virtually rabble. Related to this, insofar as the rabble is stripped of all distinguishing status symbols and denied social recognition within the hierarchized distribution of economic roles and political positions, it stands within modern societies for the zero-level of sheer, bare humanity. Ruda links the implicit, in-principle universality of mere, minimal human being to the hsgel Gattungswesen of the young Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts.

Badiou’s theory of the event, particularly as it gets recast in his Logics of Worlds the sequel to ‘s Being and Eventclearly provides Ruda with a platform for rethinking the odd position of the rabble in Hegel’s philosophy as a precursor of the revolutionary proletariat of Marxism. Such eruptions are Badiouian events — namely and in wording resonant for anyone familiar with the Marxist tradition: Likewise, Hegfl, obviously with his mind on the Marxism situated in-between Hegel and Badiou, identifies the rabble of the Philosophy of Right as the potential locus arbble Badiouese, an “evental site” for dramatic transformations of those societies Hegel hints are innately self-subverting and already on the wane.

Finally, trank lines of questioning: Ruda obviously is aware of these differences.

For example, in an endnote, he provides heegel remarkably succinct and lucid summary of the key incompatibilities between the philosophies of Agamben and Badiou. How tightly tied, if at all, is the rabble, which itself arises from a contingent shift of attitude and can manifest rudaa amongst the rich as well as the poor, to a particular socio-economic class position?


Is the rabble just the necessary or also the sufficient condition for revolutionary events? Overall, to what degree s are the objectively real dialectics of social history from Hegel’s era to the present driven primarily by the economics of capitalism? But, I am not one-hundred-percent certain of this. One thing I am sure of is that Ruda indeed has answers to these questions.

His future work, I hope, will speak to them. As for the theme of humanism, Ruda, unlike so many theorists shaped by twentieth-century French philosophy, refreshingly rejects the Althusserian thesis positing a Bachelardian-style “epistemological break” in Marx’s intellectual development allegedly occurring in with the “Theses on Feuerbach” and The German Ideology.

In connection with this and as noted aboveRuda seeks to press the early Marx’s concept of Gattungswesen into the service of a Badiouian in humanism, namely, a humanism of human beings qua self- voided animals, of human nature as auto-denaturalizing through the subject-object interactions set in motion by social labor itself initially dictated by natural circumstances and pressures.

However, is this humanism really new, or is its apparent newness an effect generated by a failure to appreciate what already is contained within humanism’s canonical sources? For example, Agamben, in his book The Open: Man and Animalastutely highlights the extreme character of Pico della Mirandola’s depiction of humanity’s peculiarity in his oration “On the Dignity of Man.

Hegel’s Rabble

Admittedly, Ruda quickly sketches all of this at the very end of Hegel’s Rabble. I am eager to rbble how he will develop this and, in the process, narrate a convincing novel history of humanism in which the continuities and discontinuities from the fifteenth century through today will come sharply into focus. Hegel’s Rabble succeeds marvelously at revivifying Hegel in the early twenty-first century.

Ruda’s carefully argued and well-supported reconstruction of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right as embedded in the Hegelian edifice as a whole challenges received wisdom about Hegek himself and Marx’s relations with him. It also brilliantly illuminates the main problems at the heart of contemporary leftist socio-political theorizing.

Ruda has made a major contribution to both Hegel scholarship heegel well as current discussions of Marxism and post-Marxism. Hegel’s Rabble is mandatory reading for anyone interested in Hegel and radical leftism today.