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FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Do you agree with the premise of "The End of History"?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16563points) November 12th, 2014

Francis Fukuyama famously argued that the advent of modern democratic liberalism signalled the end of Man’s socio-cultural development. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

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6 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s bullshit, and Fukuyama wisely saw fit to revise his opinion on “the end of history”, just as he quickly realized the utility to his reputation in running like hell from neoconservatism.

josie's avatar

The premise may be true.

The notion that it has happened at this moment in time is not true.

There will probably never be liberal democracies in civilizations that do not “believe in”, among other things, the sovereignty of the individual, universal suffrage, the folly of combining rational government with mystical faith, free markets, expansion of capital, banking systems etc. etc.

As implied in the above post, this is in my opinion where the neocons go wrong. It is probably intrinsic in the human nature to wish to live in a state of personal liberty, with protections granted by law. But unless you have studied, debated freely and openly, or experienced these things, you may not be able to “actualize it”.

Thus it is incorrect to imagine that every oppressed person can be “liberated” on Monday, and know exactly what to do on Tuesday. As an example, my girlfriend is from the Middle East. She knew something was wrong with her life as a female in an oppressive Arab culture, but she could not articulate it well until she came the US, read the words of the enlightenment philosophers, became educated and began to participate in the economy and politics.

If, as a hypothetical, Americans decide to universally accept the idea that history can “end”, and so go on a great adventure and free the world from tyranny, they are going to have to spend two generations governing everyplace they go while the former prisoners figure out how to live. When I went to the ME I sort of thought that’s what I was doing, and what the US was going to do. Given that, I thought it was a good thing.

Unfortunately, the moral difference between this idea and colonialization/imperialism is very is difficult to articulate in a political election cycle, to an electorate that sometimes chooses to not to think about such stuff. Plus, it is stupidly expensive. Thus, the politics of US involvement in the ME have changed, and I have lost interest. I won’t be going back there again.

So, history might eventually end, but it is probably not going to happen in Fukuyama’s time or yours or mine.

ragingloli's avatar

I think the only way that could be true, is if you deny that the changes that happen in liberal democratic societies constitute sociocultural development.
You would have to take the position that, for example, the advent of equal rights for minorities and women are negative or degenerate.
I think it also implies that s.c. development can only happen, if it is imposed from the top down, but not emerge from the bottom up.
Also questionable is the issue of democratic liberalism.
Has change to be undemocratic as well as illiberal to be accepted as development (oppressive laws enacted by a king)?
Or can it be liberal and undemocratic (equal rights imposed by a king),
or illiberal and democratic (enacting oppressive laws against a minority by popular vote)?
Either way, to hold that position is to be opposed to either democracy, liberalism, or both, and to deny that changes in such societies can be positive.
And as such, as @stanleybmanly said, it is complete bullshit.

flutherother's avatar

Winston Churchill put it better when he said ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.’

stanleybmanly's avatar

Churchill also said “the best argument against democracy is 5 minutes talking to the average voter”

the100thmonkey's avatar

Fukuyama was actually appropriating the term from Marx/Marxism.

That he felt able to, politically, is indicative of the time when he was writing – that the end of history would be capitalist rather than socialist; free market rather than command economy. Western triumphalism that burst its own balloon going to the Middle East to bomb them into freedom.

The idea has been shown to be false; there will be no end of history – envisaged as a family of liberal-democratic nation states, achieved through neo-colonialist practices (I will call it that) or through the ‘inevitability’ of economic ‘development’; if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that human culture doesn’t tend to repeat itself.

For example, the nation-state is a quaint or meaningless idea to many, while at the same time nationalist social forces (a result, I suggest, of globalisation of culture via economic means and communications technologies) led to the near-breakup of the UK and, more recently, the Catalans voting symbolically, for the time being, for independence from Castillian Spain.

“Illegal” immigrants in the US walk across a border that to the native peoples of the continents doesn’t really exist – it’s an imposition, and one that is going to become more and more expensive to maintain in both human and financial terms.

In short, Fukuyama and Marx were both speaking from a position of econo-social determinism; the evidence suggests that the world isn’t quite as simple as economists would have us believe, and their assumptions lead to some pretty daft ideas. For example, take a look at how economists tie themselves into knots over things as simple as why people vote, producing the most convoluted explanations because they don’t want to admit that people might do something because they believe it is the right thing to do.

The end of history will only come if we bomb, breed or engineer ourselves out of existence.

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