When humanity still had a metaphysical ideal
“From the time of the Fairy, the sadness is small
Human beings just remember the story of heaven.“
These are two verses of Huy Can in the Prologue of Bui Van Nam Son for the translation of “Phenomenology of Spirit” by G. W. F. Hegel (Literature-2006). When quoting these two verses, the scholar, the surname Bui, wants to refer to a philosophical atmosphere that has become empty and no longer carries great hope after this famous work by Hegel.
“Fairy” here is not a fairy or a living prophet, but a prophet for times and humanity. When the prophet has gone, the people of the world no longer care about heaven. They only know stories on Earth, for a purely material economic life.
Looking back at the history of the world over the past hundred years, from Hegel’s “idealism,” humanity eagerly followed Marx’s “materialism” and as a result, people sink deeper into reality. No one left to look up to “remember the story of heaven” even the sadness that lasted for years is still very small.
When a man has left behind him two dogmatic contemporaries of religion and ideology from politicalism, he has nothing metaphysical to believe in, no more transcendent ideal to live and die for. History no longer has its ends; his personal life no longer had an intrinsic content – he also lost confidence in the meaning of existence. This is the time when he abandoned religion and politics to leave. The tragedy is that he doesn’t know where to go.
When people are free from the spirit and ideology, at an early stage, people feel traumatized and helpless. But now the loneliness is gone – when the sense of history is gone. All of these values of humanity, from east to west, from rich to poor, have now become purely economic machines. Money and matter are the only ends, the ultimate concern for life.
Where is the spiritual ideal?
Take a look at the contingent of comrades in the Vietnamese Communist revolution today. The majestic and splendid revolutionary people of the previous century are now only struggling with the game of money. They had left heaven and earth out there so they could only be drunk in the dark with themselves. Those are the children of Karl Marx abandoned by history, even corrupt. For generations, following Ho Chi Minh’s leader for the ideal of independence, justice and dignity of the nation and the country, many people are now willing to leave the country because they no longer accept the extreme corruption of current Vietnamese society and communist organization.
From where? Nearly two centuries ago, when Marx read this Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit,” he wanted to turn the dialectic of Spirit back into the law of economics. Man’s roots, the measure of mankind, come not from heaven or gods, but who is himself. Marx wanted to bring this world out of the “essential kingdom” preoccupied with material needs, to the “realm of freedom” where the individual and the collective could be tolerated in harmony between needs and ability.
Marx wants to free man from Hegel’s “idealistic delusion“, which is the “superstructure” of material reality, to bring humanity back to earthly reality, to make the world pure health. Humanity should stop wasting energy on metaphysical aspirations in order to take care of the story with all its might with historical equations.
And as everyone knows already, every dream must be awakened. Marxism has faded as a historical and political ideal. But Marx correctly prophesied the human condition of this world, especially for the officials still standing in the Communist Party of Vietnam. All party members are now only economic animals (in the philosophical sense: ‘man as an economic animal’) – and the ambition of power is only for material ends.
No one believes in the words and slogans of the Party anymore. The capacity to direct the spiritual life has disappeared – though the spiritual superstition for material and power needs is overwhelming. Heaven is no longer high. The ideal is dead. The paradox is that even though the Vietnamese Communist cadres today, in terms of political theory, they no longer believe in Marx, on the economic level, they are all good children of Marx ( see also the treatises on ‘Marxist economics and the animal part of man).
The two prophets contradicted
Read Hegel again. History is the “opening of the Spirit in time,” just as “the universe is the opening of the Spirit into space.” The world, according to Hegel, is a Spiritual phenomenon, in which an individual is just a corrupt form of reaching out to the truth that awaits at the end of the historical journey. The end of history and humanity is Freedom. “World history is a process in the sense of freedom,” declared Hegel.
On an individual basis, Freedom is the enlightenment of the “item identity.” On a human basis, Freedom is the communion of individual will with historical reality. This is an arduous road, “a tragic highway,” where the Spirit of Creation, as a cunning director – the cunning of Reason – but with goodwill, full of humanity as Parental punishment for children in the house is intended to open their eyes to adulthood and grow up to know their way home.
For Hegel, the nature alienated from the absolute Spiritual energy of human consciousness is the cause of the hell on earth. Meanwhile, Marx argues that human corruption is a consequence of the inherent material economic structure of society. Marx wants to see the world and history as objects of conquest and renewal. “I myself will step on historic rubble to stand up as a new god,” wrote Marx. Man and history as a premise and antithesis, mirror each other to transform and pervert each other.
“I myself will step on historic rubble to stand up as a new god,” wrote Marx
Half of the world’s humanity, for most of the 20th century, obeyed Marx’s words, to bring the will to change history in order to transform people. Human happiness comes from economic fundamentals only when social structures will have to be reconstructed to address material necessities. Marxists no longer have to worry only about themselves. On the contrary. He wants to sacrifice his private life by self-negative will for history’s end.
Since then, history is the subject of the will to which the individual must submit. Human beings give up on individual alienation by immersing themselves in the collective will in the end of freedom. To be liberated, he must first tie himself tightly to the organizational function. There are only historical people, not private individuals. And disaster comes from there.
When “Our Party” swallows up the individual Vietnamese
And the Vietnamese communists also devote themselves to the collective chain of that willed historical ideal. “Our Party” has now replaced the individual Vietnamese ego. Therefore, the nature of current political contradictions in Vietnam lies in the place when the rising will of the Vietnamese individual wants to escape the collective chains of “our Party.”
Nowadays, Vietnamese people only see the degradation and disintegration of gods, of prophecy, of dogma, of the organization, of our Party. Everything is very cheap, easy to buy, easy to put away.
In my opinion, the Vietnamese people today only follow the spirit of the materialistic age, all dreaming of talking in heaven.
The last winter days of 2020, all over the world as well as in Vietnam, are all a world of human beings, anxious about the economy and the body. In the disappearance of the ideal drunkenness from the last century, there is something in the minds of many Vietnamese who are seeing that this is a boring and tumultuous scene of a mass of humanity no longer ideal, without truth and in fact, there is no historical will.
When Hegel was forgotten, Marx fell into a trash can when the Vietnamese communists were now exhausted from their ideals and noble will.
The disturbing phenomena, the appearance of some intellectuals, writers, artists, of the rich in Vietnam today is considered to be the tragic drama of trying to get out of the chains of “Party character.” Efforts to introduce progressive and modern ideas from outside to Vietnam, education editing work, textbooks, social network development, etc. are always at risk of being crushed or deformed into the alienation line.
Even contemporary Vietnamese poetry, music and literature have become mostly empty and boring when the spirit of the resistance was gone.
No one else is worthy of being a prophet for the times. Marx’s children who fell pure materialism in Vietnam have now lost their souls. Where has the great old sorrow of humanity gone! Continue reading two verses of Huy Can:
The eagle flapped its wings for years
Do not know how wide the other sky.