History ended, according to Hegel according to Kojève, with the establishment and proliferation in Europe of states organized along Napoleonic lines: rational, bureaucratic, homogenous, atheist. This state lives in some tension with the popular slogan that helped give it birth: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. But there is now also totalitarianism – the only new kind of regime, according to Arendt, created since the national state. Man is now in charge of nature, technology, and society; much of political life has become a gavotte elaborating the meaning of the Napoleonic model.
This interpretation, however opposed it seems to common sense, has been influential, particularly in France where the course of existentialism is unintelligible without taking it into account. Professor Cooper argues that it is inherently plausible and examines the arguments of Hegel and Kojève to reveal its consistency and explanatory power. And he applies it to more contemporary events – the experience of the atomic bomb, the Gulag system of extermination, and the growth of multinational corporations.
The work concludes by pulling together the presuppositions and theories of the totalitarian system, the Hegelian version of the Napoleonic state, and our contemporary technological society. Overall, the reader will find here a complete and challenging presentation of how the modern world understands its collective life.
About the author
BARRY COOPER is a professor of political science at the University of Calgary and the author of more than twenty-five books, including Deconfederation: Canada without Quebec and The End of History. He has a regular column in the Calgary Herald and other newspapers; his journalism has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The National Post. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.