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Alexander Harrington Corrects Professor On Hegel’s Dialectic

Summary:
Michael Harrington was a great socialist in the United States. This is not to say that he did not make some political missteps, at least at Port Huron. Isserman's biography seems to have Michael making political missteps throughout the 1950s and 1960s. His son Alexander had exposure to some hard-to-understand ideas before he got to college: My older son, Alexander, began to read Dostoevsky on his own when he was about fifteen and once told a college professor who was explaining Hegel's dialectic in terms of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis that Hegel didn't use those terms and that he should read the section on Master and Servant in the Phenomenology of Spirit for the real theory. -- Michael Harrington. 1988. The Long-Distance Runner: An Autobiography. New York: Henry Holt and

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Michael Harrington was a great socialist in the United States. This is not to say that he did not make some political missteps, at least at Port Huron. Isserman's biography seems to have Michael making political missteps throughout the 1950s and 1960s. His son Alexander had exposure to some hard-to-understand ideas before he got to college:

My older son, Alexander, began to read Dostoevsky on his own when he was about fifteen and once told a college professor who was explaining Hegel's dialectic in terms of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis that Hegel didn't use those terms and that he should read the section on Master and Servant in the Phenomenology of Spirit for the real theory. -- Michael Harrington. 1988. The Long-Distance Runner: An Autobiography. New York: Henry Holt and Company: p. 125.

The part on the master and bondsman is the same part of Hegel that Richard Wolff recommends to 'Destiny'. I do not like Hegel. The Phenomenology seems to be about the evolution of consciousness from a purely sensuous beginning. That bit about the master and slave is about how the self-consciousness of the master is reflected within the consciousness of the servant. The master wants his consciousness recognized by the servant, but also wants to dominate the servant. (I go by the Baillie translation.) I was surprised that it ends with something like the alienation of the worker.

References
  • Robert A. Gorman. 1995. Michael Harrington: Speaking American. New York: Routledge.
  • Michael Harrington. 1988. The Long-Distance Runner: An Autobiography. New York: Henry Holt and Company: p. 125.
  • Maurice Isserman. 2000. The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrinton. New York: Public Affairs.

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