November 01, 2007

Another one of those important books which I have failed to read is Professor Francis Fukuyama’s End of History, and the Last Man, published in 1992, on the heels of the full-scale implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991. The book was an amplification of his 1989 essay, “The End of History?” which appeared in the “neoconservative” journal, National Interest, founded by that born again Trotskyite, Irving Kristol. This was back in those innocent years before the “neocons” became truly dangerous. They were academics and intellectuals, for the most part, who wrote scholarly articles and books, and lived in a world of geopolitical ideas.

Fukuyama’s thesis was straightforward and does not appear especially surprising or insightful. With the crack-up of communism, as represented by the crack-up of the Soviet Union, which was an ongoing event under Mikhail Gorbachev and Perestroika, “liberal” free-market “democracy” had won the day over coercive ideologies and totalitarianism. Therefore, we have arrived at “the end of history”, with the good guys on top, as represented by America. That does not seem to me to be an implausible, extravagant idea, or was not an implausible, extravagant idea in 1989 and 1992. 

Fukuyama reaffirmed his outlook in June of 1999 in the pages of National Interest: “Nothing that has happened in world politics or the global economy in the past ten years challenges, in my view, the conclusion that liberal democracy and a market-oriented economic order are the only viable options for modern societies.” Fine, who can argue with that? Who wants to go back to communism? No one. Not the Russians or the East Germans and certainly not the Chinese communists.

The only problem is, the masterminds in Washington went haywire in the resultant unipolar world created at “the end of history”. I wrote in The Unauthorized World Situation Report, published in the summer of 2005, “Strangely, in little more than a decade since the implosion of the Soviet Union and the formal end of the Cold War, the Imperial Presidency in Washington is spinning out of control, the budget of the Pentagon is skyrocketing, and the U.S. Dollar is crashing. All under the nominal leadership of G.W. Bush, who, like his immediate predecessor, Bill Clinton, is a very dubious character. Such is the luck, irony and the irrationality of history. But did it really need to be this way? In the wake of the Cold War, the prospects of a golden age were within sight, if only for a few moments, before being extinguished.”

In the meantime, Fukuyama seems to have recognized that something has gone horribly wrong. He now proclaims, “When I wrote about the “end of history” almost twenty years ago, one thing that I did not anticipate was the degree to which American behavior and misjudgments would make anti-Americanism one of the chief fault-lines of global politics.” What Fukyama is saying now is important. It amounts to a wholesale repudiation of “neoconservatism”, at least as it has been carried out in the real world. He talks about mistakes and incompetence and regrets “the lopsided distribution of power in the international system.” He does not address issues like American domestic politics, venality, and hidden agendas. Does Fukuyama still not realize what has been going on?


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