Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Re: More on Fukuyama and the end of history

Ahmed, the Roger Kimball review you posted ( ) was apparently written about the time Fukuyama published his book in1992. It is consistent with my understanding of what Fukuyama wrote. I had a different set of reservations but his are interesting. I read the book in 1999 and considered Fukuyama’s arguments plausible and went about looking for criticisms and responses. I didn’t initially find many of a serious nature. But in 2002 I read Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. This is a very interesting alternative to Fukuyama’s thesis. Huntington wrote his book after Fukuyama’s. Whether it was written in response to Fukuyama’s The End of History I don’t know.

On page 2 of Kimball’s review he writes “What [Fukuyama] did maintain, however, was that liberal democracy was the best conceivable social-political system for fostering freedom; and therefore – because ‘the ideal will govern the material world in the long run’ – he also claimed that liberal democracy would not be superseded by a better or ‘higher’ form of government.” This is what Fukuyama conveys in the first four sections of his book to the best of my recollection and as far as I have reread. It is only when he gets to the last section, Section V, that he considers what might go wrong with the end of history. The idea that something could go wrong bothered Kimball who thought Fukuyama should be consistent with what he perceives as his argument for historical inevitability. I didn’t have that problem. Fukuyama follows Kojeve who rejects Marx and turns Hegel right-side up, but Fukuyama relies as much upon his own observations. He considered the various nations of the world and discusses the inevitability of those nations becoming Liberal Democracies. Kimball sees two Fukuyama’s one pragmatic and the other an ambivalent philosopher. I saw just the one Fukuyama who was marshalling all his intellectual tools to look at the world’s nations and map their direction. Being a consistent Hegelian wasn’t his concern.

Lawrence Helm

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