The End of History? – A Reconstruction of Fukuyama’s Thesis.
In the closing stages of the Cold War in 1989, Francis Fukuyama declared that we were witnessing the end of history. This did not mean the end of events; rather the end of mankind’s ideological evolution. In other words, the search for the optimal political and economic system. Fukuyama draws largely on G.W.F. Hegel, as interpreted by Alexandre Kojève. For Hegel, ‘history’ culminated in an “absolute moment” in which a final, rational form of society became victorious. For Fukuyama, this final form of society is Western liberal democracy. Liberal democracy demonstrates the end of history because there are no longer any fundamental contradictions that cannot be solved within the context of liberalism, nor are there any substantive ideological challenges to liberal democracy.
Fukuyama highlights two major challenges to liberalism which have occurred in the past century; communism and fascism. Fascism was no longer a challenge to liberalism because it had been defeated, not only on a material level through WWII but also, and more importantly, it had been defeated as an idea. The inherent and inescapable total failure now associated with fascism destroyed its appeal. The challenge from communism was far greater. Its criticism of capital and labour and the inequalities associated with liberalism/capitalism garnered substantial support and remain the chief accusation against the ideology. Fukuyama draws on empiricism to substantiate his argument of the end of a communist threat. The egalitarian society of modern America is said to represent “the achievement of the classless society”, leading to redundancy of the Marxist challenge. Furthermore, the liberalisation of the China in relation to its economy means it no longer acts as an example of an alternative to liberalism. Economic trends and developments of the Soviet Union in 1989 are the central empirical example of the outdating of the...
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