I started reading it a few weeks ago, as a matter of fact (Kindle sample), and found it enjoyable, but opted against going any further for now.

As for the first question, I think the answer is "absolutely" yes.

As for the second question, from Hegel's point of view or from a point of view grounded in his outlook, there's nothing to worry about on the basic premise: You cannot even ask the question, or suffer or imagine suffering the idea of its untruth, without implicitly re-affirming it. I don't think, however, that that necessarily means that the liberal democratic capitalist order as we understand it (or explain it to ourselves) must be thought the necessary final and exclusive phenomenal form that the world "after history" takes (and Hegel himself wasn't in a position to "get" capitalism).

According to Strauss, Kojève, and Hegel, it's ALL secondary literature on Hegel since Hegel!

I think the book you'd enjoy the most, and that for the same reason would prove most dangerous in your hands, would be Lectures on the Philosophy of World History . It includes many of H's most universally reviled and rejected, proto-Spenglerian ideas on the fates of races and nations, all presented in a for Hegel easily accessible manner. Along the way, he gets America wonderfully and I think very usefully wrong.

The first of the other two introductions that I would highly recommend would be Hegel's own "Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit," which can be purchased separately, though I don't know why you wouldn't just go ahead and get the whole book as an admirable addition to any bookshelf, real or virtual. Not having the time and confidence to test my German against the original text, the edition I that I read a few years ago now, that I usually refer and return to, is this one: Phenomenology of Spirit

Kojève's Introduction to the Reading of Hegel is now sometimes treated as Kojève's Introduction to Kojève using Hegel as a Pretext. It's a great read (assuming you like this kind of thing, of course) in its own right, arguably of great importance to post-war continental philosophy, whether or not you've read or are reading Hegel: Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit

I'm also a fan of the Philosophy of Right, which you might turn to after the Phil of World History if you find yourself falling into the Hegelian well and aren't seized with a sense of desperation to escape. In terms of accessibility I'd rate it a midpoint between the Lectures and the main text of Phenomenology.

My assumption, based on my knowledge of don miguel, which of course goes back centuries, is that he interprets Hegel the way that many conservative academics and pundits do (see, esp. Ronald Pestritto), as intellectual architect of the Bismarck state and semi-secret progenitor of the progressive or Progressive "cancer." You have to remember that for them Obamacare is already tyranny or at best crypto-tyranny, that the Great Society was a refurbishment and expansion of a "liberal plantation," and so on - the "Liberal Fascism" notion that is a somewhat more polite version of Bundyism.

It's also true that Hegel frequently acknowledged different ways in which liberation or the zone of liberation might be expanded by tyrannical and even fanatical means and measures. So Napoleon, for him, through military conquest and dictatorship still served to consolidate and extend the "positive freedom" and idea of universal equality embodied in the Napoleonic Code and the Rights of Man.

The same tendency is even more pronounced in Kojève or Kojève's Hegel: The idea, for instance, that the Terror could be or had to be understood as an historically and mass-psychologically necessary step in the internalization and higher realization of the same entirely anti-Terroristic values. Kojève in his response to Strauss seems to suggest that even the likes of Stalin and Hitler can and must be approached in the same way, as Mephistophelian figures doing good, or advancing universal freedom, despite themselves. It's hard to say "doing God's work," because Kojève was a committed atheist who insisted that Hegel was really an atheist despite his claims to the contrary. However Kojève described his or Hegel's ideas, the Hegelian "cunning of history" does seem to take the same form as traditional theodicy, and can be counted on to produce the same appalled reaction from those committed to more conventional notions: that horrible events, movements, and ideas are simply horrible, and "bright sides" of the Holocaust, colonialism, Communism, Nazism, world war, etc., are for the morally blind or worse.

Have spent hours I can't spare working up a longer reply - for which diversion I both blame and thank you, Mr. M, but I can't afford to work it through. For now, I'll summarize the thought, which we've previously discussed in these parts in relation to ecologism, as follows: Ultimate success both requires and produces ultimate danger, and as soon as the "bottom line" begins to look too much like one or the other, the effect will be to produce compensatory but not finally predictably sufficient movement in the opposite direction. If we knew the movement would always be sufficient, and that success of some type was guaranteed, then we would therefore know that the danger was not really the ultimate danger or potential ultimate danger, as required by the system. I have to stop myself here, for now, but there's much in the discussion above that I look forward to and dread considering further at a later time, either on this thread or in a new post or posts.

I'll be thinking further about your comment, Mr. McKenzie, but, since it figures so prominently in the critique and in your response, I thought I should refer you and anyone else reading along to Gordon Wood more directly, as in the following words I've frequently quoted or cited at this blog, though not recently:

The illimitable progress of mankind promised by the Enlightenment could at last be made coincident with the history of a single nation. For the Americans at least, and for others if they followed, the endless cycles of history could finally be broken.

The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, p. 614

Wood's conclusion, which is a scholar's rendering of an insight that he credits to the collective work of the American Founders and Framers, not to any single foundational thinker, is, I think, embedded in different ways in Strauss' writing on the Early Moderns, in Hegel's philosophy of world history, and in Fukuyama's widely misunderstood (perhaps at this point even by Fukuyama!) updating of Hegel's/Kojève's "end of history" paradigm. I think in our era the emphasis turns increasingly to "the others": The unsustainability of "this regime" as a "national" or "ethno-national" regime, and all the more as a "white racial" regime, might be foretold in its origins, but whether that result needs to be a catastrophic end or series of catastrophes or can or has to be something much more complex, and to a crucial extent manageable, might not be something we or anyway I can derive directly from its concept.

Thanks for your kind words and your cogent comment, Mr. McKenzie. Indeed, I find it somewhat disturbing that the comment is more cogent than the heap of scraps that inspired it, but I'll soldier on anyway.

My reply for now both to your observations on doctrines of liberty and equality as well as to your questions will be to seek the middle term or concrete result - with the nature of a mixed, contradictory but also dynamic and evolving regime form, the mass polity, in mind.

The eventual subversion of liberty by democracy, to be followed in historically short order by the subversion of democracy by itself, was the process or cycle according to classical science of politics that modern or (for Strauss Wood, and others) American science of politics was supposed to interrupt. The solution does not produce excellent or the most excellent conceivable results, as a rule: the preferred result, since the immediately best results turn out to be unsustainable and to contain the seeds of the immediately or deceptively best regime's own destruction as surely and predictably as with all of the other regime forms. The mixed regime or polity seeks in a sense to inoculate itself against the diseases of each main regime form by tolerating less virulent forms and building up immunities, but the process seems to require continual re-infection, producing a general appearance of ill or sub-optimal health and a tendency toward hypochondria, under the standing danger, or perhaps it's a certainty, of eventually killing itself (ourselves) by mistake or under some combination of error, disintegration, external pressure, and so on. (To the extent it's like a living being, it's a mortal being, as prophets and philosophers remind us.)

On equality v liberty, I don't disagree completely with your statement that the doctrine of equality "has our country in its tight grip," though I think the concreteness of the metaphor is somewhat misleading. It's at a minimum ironic, and perhaps something more troubling, that doctrines of social or moral equality reign at the same time that concrete economic and arguably political inequality appear to be at historical extremes, attended by massive political apathy and doubt. It's as though we have chosen to compensate purely symbolically, or psychologically, for our real excesses and frustrations: Bread, circuses, and the occasional civil proscription of a figure who stands for the patriarchy. How much longer this particular version of a "mixed" result will prove adequately balancing or satisfying I do not claim to know.

As for Spinoza, I acknowledged I was possibly overextending his thought, though I'm not sure how far I was overextending it: What if, for us, civil proscription or trial by massified jury stands in for conventional legal processes? As for the extent of my own libertarianism, when Americans today speak about "free speech absolutism," I think we tend to picture deranged cultists shouting curses at soldier's funerals, pornography in primetime, and loud all-night parties keeping the neighbors up. I'm against those. I'm in favor of free inquiry; I suspect the costs of submitting to a reign of lies and stupidity are easy to underestimate; and at this point in my life I find philosophical politics - thinking called to its own defense - one of a few sufficient motivations to take time off to put my thoughts in writing.

I think I have one answer to the two questions you pose, though I fear it will be disappointing or look like a dodge.

First, you ask: "Can any regime at all, especially liberal democracy, tolerate extensive discussion of the inadequacy or defectiveness of the regime itself?" The regime defined by that extensive discussion not only would have to be able to tolerate it, but would absolutely depend on it. When that extensive self-criticism ceased, the regime would be dead. If its self-criticism is inauthentic, then the regime is "dead-in-life." So, you may be right that the only transformation open to a liberal regime would be to an illiberal one, but a mixed regime, a regime constantly in a state of transformation and self-transformation in all respects except that one, would be in a different predicament.

In another sense "liberal regime" is an oxymoron, just like the figure "liberal democracy." To the extent the regime is liberal, its not a regime. To the extent it's a regime, it's not liberal. So, "liberal" as a description of any regime may always have to be taken as a comparative or relative assessment: A regime that overall creates or protects more space for liberalities of different types than other regimes do. Or: Liberal democracy as a regime form is the institutionalization of (acknowledgment of) its own defectiveness, and of the even greater defectiveness of liberalism or democracy left to their own devices. It is its own constant self-criticism and exercise of judgment against itself, and against other judgments.

The only available answer to your second question, regarding the "crisis of the collapse of [the] state" follows as a corollary: The political-administrative state of liberal democracy is an institutionalization of crisis, or crisis is its stasis, and we are certainly living through its internal contradictions pointing to collapse: That's what it is.

I tend to think the actual failure of the particular regime, the realization of its absurdity in time, as its irrecoverable negation, must occur organically or concretely, as a result of processes beyond our ability to predict with any useful specificity: Indeed, the arrival or attainment of such an ability as a rational ability - an unprecedented, truly transcendent intellectual competence directly accessible to human beings - would already signal and possibly constitute a dire threat to the regime, or might be another way to say "apocalypse" or "on the knees of the gods."

One problem is that for the majority or vast majority of individuals legally enslaved in the US (and wherever else slavery existed), purely as a matter of practicality, the "chains" would also be "figurative" or potential, while there are many ways that someone stepping out of line as a wage-slave or a soldier or caught in the wrong neighborhood or just being a citizen while black could be subjected to violence or deprivation or imprisonment and real chains. At the same time, even if a main intention was to have hope of liberation "beaten out" of slaves, that doesn't mean it was successful or uniformly successful. Indeed, we know it wasn't, and can suggest it couldn't have been.

Bundy's contention was something different again, but the point of observing such distinctions is not to defend Bundy's position, but to isolate the difference if any between it and what's said about it, and then to understand the meaning of that difference - presuming that having an honest, open, and informative discussion that doesn't get stuck in the "same dull round" is worthwhile. I'll refrain from further comments on it for now, since I have a longer piece that I may or may not publish, recapitulating and extending our twitter discussion on Bundy, and intended to take into account much other discussion. (The "scrapheap" in the title of this post didn't mainly refer to the people mentioned, but to a kind of post consisting of material that doesn't seem to fit in "real" posts even in footnotes, but that I don't want to consign to the recycle bin.)