The Two Suns and the Abolition of Labour. Hegel, Marx, and the Protection of Freedom against Economic Inequality.


Liberals (in the European sense of the word) and socialists think that the essence of man lies in his economic activity. This is why political affairs should be, according to them, under the control of the most productive class (though they don’t agree on the identity of this class). This is why the protection of the economic sphere from the political one is part of their common agenda (not only of the liberal agenda). The opposite tradition discusses on a different basis. For Hegel (and later for Arendt) the essence of man lies in his political freedom and this is why he thinks the political sphere should be protected against the economic one. He doesn’t believe that history is finished. The sun that «came up» in 1806 is not the same one that «goes down» in 1821. There are two suns. Hegel believes a new world is coming, though most of the concepts we can use for describing it belong to the old one. In the now dawning world the «concept of right» will be realized thanks to the subordination of the economic to the political sphere. Marx seems to agree with the first conceptual framework, but in reality he agrees with the second one. Otherwise, he would not be expecting the «abolition» of labour.