One of the reasons for the emergence of Nazism in Germany was the germination of the idealist conception of the state. It is also known as the philosophical, metaphysical or absolute theory of the state. It traces its origin to the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. According to Aristotle an individual is an ‘unethical abstraction’. But it is the state which provides the necessary environment for the fullest development of human personality. Consequently state was venerated. Later idealists like Hegel, held the view “the state whether good or bad, is the march of God on earth. It is God itself. To obey the state is to obey God. The orders of the state have divine sanction. State is the divine idea as it exists on earth”. To the idealists, loyalty to the state is loyalty to our true, higher and rational self and coercion may be essential for the existence of the state.


Immanuel Kant may be considered the founder of the theory if idealism. Though Kant’s greatest contribution was his approach to politics from the view of morals, he viewed any political philosophy devoid of it as meaningless. Unlike one of the ultra right of the thinkers of later period, he was not prepared to sacrifice the freedom of the individual at the alter of the state.Infact according to him, it was not the duty of the state to promote moral freedom directly. That should be done by the individual. The state’s major function should be to establish a social condition of external order in which moral acts can evolve and grow. The duty of the state should be to curb hindrances to this freedom to evolve.


Hegel in his book ‘the philosophy of the right elucidates that political philosophy is concerned not only with the teaching of the state ought to be but also how to understand its ethical dimension’. He believed that good life cannot be achieved in isolation but only when a person is part of a community. True freedom in such a community is possible only by the harmonious integration of the claims and obligations of the people. So a man is obligated to fulfill his duties and it should not be viewed as a restriction of his freedom. The state here is intended to create the essential condition for the full development of human personality. His views on religion were that the state should not compel the establishment of religious uniformity. In fact to him the union of state and church is characteristic of oriental despotism. Interestingly he rejected the concept of ‘laissez faire’ propagated by the physiocrats and viewed unregulated competition creating chaos rather than benefits. He held the view that the idea of laissez faire was the result of confusing the state with that of civil society. Much of Hegel’s political theory contained essential elements of Fascism, Racialism, Nationalism and glorification of leadership. This paved the way for the emergence of ultra rightist viewpoints.

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Comments 4 comments

ram_m profile image

ram_m 4 years ago from India Author

Yes Eric, manipulators and demagogues can be real threats. But what is mystifying is how do people (intelligent people, if i may add) fall a victim to it? Thank you for your sincere comment.

ram_m profile image

ram_m 4 years ago from India Author

Very true William, its quite unsettling to think, what damages can be done if some idea is hijacked by a pervert.What should worry us is that it is still possible for some one to repeat it. Do you think there is a way out? i would very much like to know your opinion. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Great Hub. I guess most all horrible situations begin with someone subverting a good idea to their own evil ambitions.

William Young profile image

William Young 4 years ago from Eaglle Grove, Iowa

That was fascinating to read. It's interesting how Hitler used a combination of the idealist conception of the state as well as feeding and fostering the humiliation that Germany suffered after World War I and the implementation of the Versailles Treaty. Hitler obviously knew what kind of monster he wanted to create, and he managed to create it by fueling the emotions of the German people with a carefully manufactured false narrative, which of course, led to the persecution of the Jewish people in Germany and Eastern Europe. Great Hub!

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