The dialectic of reality/possibility

>> John Ransom wrote:
>> >I've
>> >always thought of Hegel as much more of a leftist than a rightist because
>> >he is willing to oppose his abstract, presently unrealized but present in
>> >nuce, concept of the truth of Spirit against its "actual" but in some
>> >sense "unreal" manifestations.
>> Doug Henwood replied:
>> Huh? Have you ever read any neoclassical economics? Any social institution
>> (unions, the welfare state, regulations) that stands in the way of their
>> textbook model of markets must be smashed. Reality must conform to the
>> model! And I never thought of neoclassical econonomics as leftist in any
>> way.
>> And John Ransom answered:
>I don't follow.

Of course, the dialectic of reality/possibility can function in a number of
ways. As John notes, in the hands of Hegel and Marx, it is employed with
the intention of making critical comment about the present (more so in Marx
than in Hegel though--at times Hegel seemed fairly content with his point
in history!). But at the same time, as Doug notes, the same tool can
function in a very different way in the hands of technocrats. Isn't the
disagreement here about the ends to which the tool is being used, rather
than the tool itself? (that is to say [against Fukuyama etc.] 'the
absolute' and 'the market' might be rather different things.) Or is there
something genuinely 'wrong' with the way that this dialectic is being
evoked by neoclassical economists and their allies?

Campbell Jones
University of Otago
New Zealand

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