Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Short summary: The End of History by Fukuyama - explanation

"The End of History and the Last Man" by Francis Fukuyama is a book published in 1992 (expanding on an essay published in 1989) arguing that the end of the Cold-War marks the endpoint of the development of human history.
Fukuyama draws heavily on the Philosophy of Hegel and its interpretation by Kojeve. Hegel, to summarize, saw history as evolving through conflict between opposing ideas (Hegelian dialectics of thesis, antithesis and synthesis). Kojeve translated this highly influential line of thought into an argument holding that the final condition of humanity's socio-political order is a homogeneous state ruled by a single victorious ideology. This will mark the end of ideology (and therefore of history) since such a society will be, according to Kojeve, a "post-political" society which won't be divided by ideological differences.  
In "The End of History and the Last Man" Fukuyama sees the end of the Cold-War and the fall of the Berlin Wall as marking the end of ideological conflict with the unchallenged establishment of Western liberal democracy as the final ideological stage of human evolution. After the opposition between the liberal West and the communist world was resolved Fukuyama sees no further direction in which history can go. Hence the end of history is not to be understood as no more events happening and no more people born of die, but rather as the final resolution of the tensions which drive history forwards. The end of history for Fukuyama is the end of the making of history and human progress in its Hegelian understanding (and by that denying Marx's view of history which saw the endpoint of history in a global communist society, see for example The Communist Manifesto).  
Fukuyama's thesis in "The End of History and the Last Man" was heavily criticized by both other historical thinkers and history itself. Most notable among Fukuyama's critiques is Samuel Huntington in his book "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order"  (1996) where he explains that cultural forces will take over ideological forces in shaping global history. Since September 11th 2001 Huntington's critique of Fukuyama's "The End of History" is proved painfully right, history did not come to its end (see End of History vs. Clash of Civilizations debate



Related summaries:

The End of History and the Last Man / Francis Fukuyama


Some related books to consider:   

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