THE END OF THE END OF HISTORY

Posted in Rants on July 15th, 2008 by Ed

If it's true that there is nothing sexier than a lapsed Catholic, then I will argue that there is nothing more entertaining than a lapsed neocon.

Francis Fukuyama has long been lauded by the right for his classic, thunderingly stupid The End of History and the Last Man. While international relations is certainly not my field, I feel comfortable mocking the shit out of rhetorical detritus like:

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

I will pause while you marvel at the fact that this man became internationally famous and virtually canonized by the right for proposing that in 1992, with Earth's sun not set to burn out for another billion-odd years, Western free-market democracy became the "final form of human government." We attained perfection. Fifteen years later I am still blown away by the hubris, naivety, and self-congratulatory tone of the early post-Soviet era.

Tim Krieder (The Pain comics, with major h/t to Matthew) uses Fukuyama as a primary example of how the right lacks imagination and creativity. In the ideological glow of "their" victory over Marx, they were simply incapable of imagining an alternative or wrapping their minds around the idea that anyone could reject the promise of unfettered capitalism. How could anyone want anything else? There is nothing else.

Well, it turns out that history didn't end and the rush to embrace The Only Way was less than universal. As Samuel Huntington argued in The Clash of Civilizations, it turned out that there were still a few ideological disagreements in the world.** Duly offended by the tepid response to Democracy's Promise in the middle east and Asia, the Western world has tried spreading it through economic hegemony. Or the barrel of a gun.

Fukuyama seems to understand that he may have underestimated a few things (although he insists, as conservatives always insist, that the real problem is not the ideology but that we strayed from it). Since 2006 he has alienated his neocon devotees by suggesting that perhaps the Iraq invasion has not been a success. He has also repudiated the Neocon movement he was so instrumental in creating. Now? He's endorsing Obama. How's that for the "Where Are They Now" file?

I can't tell if he's a late bloomer or simply a craven opportunist, but I am not a man who will stand idly by and fail to enjoy a very public academic humiliation.

**Having mentioned Fukuyama and Huntington, we have now exhausted what I know about IR.

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