End of History


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Slides on the End of History (Francis Fukuyama) for an undergraduate course in Political Thought that I taught between 2003-2005.

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  • Learning Objectives: 1.) To understand what is meant by the “end of history” argument. 2.) To appreciate the philosophical underpinnings of the end of history. 3.) To be acquainted with liberal democracy as the “universal homogenous state” in the context of the end of history. 4.) To discern the implications of the end of history argument for world politics.
  • End of History

    1. 1. the end of history (?)
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Francis Fukuyama </li></ul><ul><li>The “End of History” argument </li></ul><ul><li>Philosophical and practical underpinnings of the “End of History” </li></ul><ul><li>Implications of this “End of History” to liberal democracy </li></ul>
    3. 3. Francis Fukuyama… <ul><li>… is still very much alive.  </li></ul><ul><li>Social science professor/researcher </li></ul><ul><li>Teaches at Johns Hopkins University and is associated with the RAND Corporation </li></ul><ul><li>Books include: The End of History and the Last Man , The Great Disruption , Trust , and Our Posthuman Future (etc). </li></ul>
    4. 4. The Cold War <ul><li>Period of political tension between the “First World” Western Democracies and the “Second World” Communist States </li></ul><ul><li>It was fundamentally a war over influence (over the “Third World”) </li></ul><ul><li>Fukuyama’s claim: The end of the cold war was not just the end of an era, but the end of history itself. </li></ul>
    5. 5. The End of History <ul><li>“… the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human development.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hence, it is an intellectual triumph: that is, its basic principles have already been perfected and can go unchallenged </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Liberal democracy arises as the “universal homogenous state” </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Philosophical Bases <ul><li>Marx </li></ul><ul><li>Dialectical materialism: history progresses according to material forces </li></ul><ul><li>Establishment of a communist utopia would be the end of history </li></ul><ul><li>However, materialist explanations cannot fully account for the entirety of human action </li></ul>
    7. 7. Philosophical Bases <ul><li>Hegel </li></ul><ul><li>Hegelian dialectic: contradictions that drive history exist in the realm of human consciousness on the level of ideas </li></ul><ul><li>The world is shaped in the likeness of these ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas = Ideology in its broadest sense </li></ul><ul><li>History progresses to weed out the contradictions in ideas </li></ul>
    8. 8. Practical Bases <ul><li>In 1806, Hegel made the claim that Napoleon’s victory at Jena marked the end of history </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The victory represented the universalization and actualization of the principles of the French revolution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Liberte, egalite, fraternite ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As such, there was no more room for the improvement of these principles </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Practical Bases <ul><li>Since then, numerous ideologies have arisen that oppose the basic tenets of liberal democracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fascism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communism/Marxism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religious fundamentalism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nationalism/Ethnocentrism </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Yet none of these have been able to survive the historical process </li></ul>
    10. 10. Thus… <ul><li>“The state that emerges at the end of history is liberal insofar as it recognizes and protects through a system of law man’s universal right to freedom, and democratic insofar as it exists only with the consent of the governed.” </li></ul>
    11. 11. Implications <ul><li>In what way has history “ended”? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only on the level of ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There is no room for improving the principles of liberal democracy nor for questioning them </li></ul></ul><ul><li>It still remains to extend these ideas and better implement them </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The world will be divided into the “historical” and the “post-historical” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All states will become liberally democratic only in the long term </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Implications <ul><li>With history at an end, the sole remaining preoccupation for man will be to meet human needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economics, not politics, becomes man’s primary pursuit </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Alternatively, it may be said that liberal democracies have no “higher” ideals to offer man </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Individuals become “men without chests” </li></ul></ul>