Alexander Kojève: from revolution to empire
History begins in a struggle producing two figures, Master and Slave. It ends in a “universal and homogeneous state”, an Empire. Revolution with its inevitable terror is the central point in this history. Kojève himself had experienced the Russian revolution and Civil War; in 1920 he left Russia for Germany, where till the end of 1923 he had witnessed the same strife between the “left” and the “right”. This experience is the basis of his view of history, his interpretation of the path from Mastery and Slavery to the figure of the Citizen, to universal recognition. The French revolution with the Jacobins’ terror and Napoleon’s Empire represent for him the model by which to understand not only the revolutions of the twentieth century, but of the entire course of history.