Freedom, the State, and War: Hegel’s Challenge to World Peace

International Politics 54 (2):203-220 (2017)
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Several conflict theorists have appropriated Hegel’s ‘struggle for recognition’ to highlight the healthy dimensions of conflict and to explore ways of reaching reconciliation through mutual recognition. In so doing, some scholars attend to the interpersonal dimension of reconciliation, while others focus on the interstate dimension of reconciliation. This paper argues that both approaches miss important Hegelian insights into the modern state. Hegel understands that freedom must be situated and bounded in order to take a concrete form. He believes that concrete freedom and domestic reconciliation create an atmosphere that can pressure the state to be more confrontational with other states by attaining a stronger individuality. Thus, the common concern about freedom among Hegelian states remains a ‘thin’ version of communication, vulnerable to such factors as national honor or recognition status. Hegel’s challenge urges peace-inspired scholars to explore ways of achieving concrete freedom and domestic reconciliation while simultaneously relieving interstate conflict.
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