The End of 'The End of History'
For the most part, it makes sense. One of Fukuyama’s main themes is exploring the ideas of Hegel (and his critic, Kojeve) in contemporary contexts. Coupled with frequent references to Locke, Hobbes, Nietzsche and the like it is a fairly erudite analysis of modern life.
The author concentrates particularly on the master-slave relationship and the concept of ‘thymos’, a Greek term referring to man’s spirit and will to prove himself.
This he applies to various political theories, with the key principle being that modern liberal democracy is the ultimate – if not the perfect – political model and thus ‘the end of history’ as in the struggle to create an ideal state.
Then again, my big problem with the text – and one that Fukuyama makes only passing reference to without serious consideration of the implications – is the question of culture.
Fukuyama himself suggests that international politics should not be perceived as a game of billiards in which every ball has the same mass, size and shape and behaves predictably when influenced by certain factors (eg. being hit by other balls). He admits that in order to fully understand the world, one must also know what is inside the balls.
Yet, despite this, he then proceeds to broadly ignore the question of culture and this is his main failing. If liberal democracy really is the ultimate end of history, then why are the Confucian and Islamic cultures moving away from it?
Moreover, how is it that China (the obvious example, to which I always return) is doing so well, while India ( the world’s largest democracy) is – in my opinion – twenty years behind?
And can we really state with conviction that Confucian and Islamic cultures are really compatible with liberal democracy? Is it not the case that people actually want to be ruled by an authoritarian leadership, and are in reality afraid of the difficult choices and consequences of choosing their own governments?
It’s a book of its time. In 1992, everyone was celebrating the fall of The Wall and the tearing up of the Iron Curtain. But so much has happened since then.
History has that habit – it does tend to keep happening.