The End of History and the Last Man (Magill Book Reviews)
In his 1989 article, “The End of History?” Francis Fukuyama raised a storm of controversy. THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN is the author’s response. His thesis is simple. The failure of communism and the disappearance of the Soviet Union has resulted in the victory of liberal democracy and capitalism. There are, he claims, no more challengers. Security and freedom have been achieved, and consequently history has ended.
THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN ignores the confusing events and details of most history and is more philosophical, even teleological, in its orientation. The author states that only liberal democracy and the market economy have satisfactorily provided what Plato claimed to be necessary for happiness: the appetitive (food and sex), the reasoning (knowledge and truth), and the need to be recognized as human. Hegel’s concept of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis explained the process of history, with liberal democracy as the final synthesis according to Fukuyama. Marx, like Hegel, saw the world in a clash of evolving opposites, but while Marx predicted that the triumph of communism would lead to the withering away of the state, Fukuyama instead argues that with the victory of liberal democracy it is history that has died.
Whether the triumph of the West is entirely satisfactory is another matter. Borrowing from Nietzsche, Fukuyama wonders if merely making money or getting elected to political office might not be a...
(The entire section is 348 words.)
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The End of History and the Last Man (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
In 1989, a year that saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and other events signifying the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama published a sixteen-page article titled, “The End of History?” in The National Interest, a journal with a circulation of about six thousand. Surprisingly, he and his article quickly became widely known and very controversial. Policymakers and politicians both within the United States and elsewhere debated his assertion. University academics and ordinary readers of popular news magazines discussed the question Fukuyama asked. The End of History and the Last Man is both a response to his many critics and an elaboration of the ideas found in his original article. Arguing that the end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe left the West in sole command of the political and economic landscape, Fukuyama claims that liberal democracy and capitalism have triumphed, that there are no alternatives or remaining ideological challengers, and that history, defined as the evolving competition between political, social, and economic ideologies, has come to an end.
Most critics vehemently disagreed with Fukuyama’s original article. History cannot simply end; billions of human beings are living their lives, struggling for their existences, and reproducing themselves. Wars are still taking place, political battles are being fought, and even capitalistic economies can suffer...
(The entire section is 1890 words.)