As the end of the Cold War approached, in which capitalism, represented by the United States, and communism, represented by the Soviet Union, came to an end with the apparently successful Western model Francis Fukuyama. posed this story, as we knew it, was drawing to a close.
The end of Fukuyama’s Story is an idea that refers to how, after an ideological model won economically and politically, it was only a matter of time before everyone ended up. adopt it. Ideologies, he said, have been the main driver of the conflict and being reduced to one must no longer continue to exist.
With its successes and failures, the idea of the end of the story of this American political scientist has been on the lips of many, especially in the 90s when it was believed to be a reality, but today she is very present. doubt. Next, we will discuss this philosophical concept.
What is the end of the story according to Fukuyama?
The end of history is a philosophical concept addressed in several works by the American political scientist of Japanese origin Francis Fukuyama (1952), more precisely “The end of history?” (1989) and “The End of History and the Last Man” (1992), an idea which maintains that, faced with the gradual disappearance of the only rival until then of the capitalist-liberal bloc, the socialist-Leninist or communist bloc, the a properly Western democratic system has proved victorious in the ideological field.
By the 1980s and as was demonstrated in the early 1990s, mankind had reached a point where there was no rival of capitalism-liberalism that could be considered to have succeeded as a political and economic system. functional. Thus, the world has entered a new period that Fukuyama sees as the end: the post-history.
The Cold War (1945-1991) was over and with it the struggle between capitalism and communism. When capitalism won, ideological warfare has ended, and armed war is likely, it was no longer necessary to think of new forms of government and management of the economy, for that was the democratic model. liberal capitalist who seemed to be the most functional and that he had. turned out to be adopted by those who until recently were communist nations. Fukuyama considered it a simple matter of time before the liberal democratic system became universal.
Where did the idea for the end of the story come from?
Already in the eighties, Francis Fukuyama exercised, without having any certainty on this subject, as an occasional oracle to seize the fall of the other pretender to the cold war: socialism Leninism. This communist model had been the alternative economic and political model to liberalism and capitalism, models of Western democracies.
What surprises in Fukuyama’s work is the very concept of “the end of history”. It’s about a philosophical concept that Karl Marx himself had echoed before, Granting him an important diffusion through the philosophical ideas of century XX, but that in fact it was not his but of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel had struck him during the Battle of Jena, a fight in which Napoleonic France had defeated the Prussian monarchy.
Hegel saw history as an uninterrupted succession of stages, Who supplanted each other, more or less changing society from one era to another. Throughout history, societies have grown and fallen, replaced by new economic and political models. At the dawn of humanity, we lived in tribes, then we became slave societies, later feudal and theocratic until reaching capitalism without democracy and then the creation of democratic regimes based on capitalism and liberalism.
Fukuyama considers in his works of the 80s and 90s that liberal democracy in politics and capitalism in economics is the last link in the evolutionary history of ideas. This form of government and management of the economy is the most sophisticated, being ethically, economically and politically the most efficient and after it will not come again. Since no new economic or political system will be developed and no one else can compete with it, he has reached a point where he is not going to advance historically because he cannot.
With liberal and capitalist democracy no longer having its main communist rival, it is only a matter of time before the Western economic and political model is adopted by other countries of the world. This does not mean that all countries automatically adopt liberal democracy and the capitalist system, but that there will be countries which are still at a historical stage, that is to say that they are not yet democracies or have capitalism, while other countries will have already entered. post-history, being full liberal and capitalist democracies.
All this does not mean that the world will come to a complete stop, in the sense that absolutely nothing will happen. Yes, things will happen, some nasty, but most of the new events will focus on science. Since there is no need to change the economy or politics, all efforts to move forward will focus on science, especially biology and medicine, seeking to cure diseases that remain fatal or improve our quality of life by biomedical terms.
Impact of his work
The publication of “The End of History?” of 1989 supposed a real intellectual revolutionEven more so if one takes into account the fact that the brutal and brutal fall of the Soviet Union had not yet taken place, although there is little evidence that it was only a matter of time. The USSR, great rival of the Western model and especially of the United States, benchmark of capitalism and liberalism, finally disintegrated on December 25, 1991, almost three years after the publication of this first essay.
During the 1980s, the greatest representative of Socialism-Leninism began to show a certain openness, a certain “good face” with the Western lifestyle. The enemy was no longer so enemy. However, this opening materialized with Mikhail Gorbachev’s Perestroika has been interpreted by many Western political analysts, including Francis Fukuyama, as a clear example of the final decline of the Communist model. The socialist-Leninist model was exhausted and the leaders of the USSR knew it, having to adopt the principles of the rival in order to survive.
The fact that the USSR started betting on a timid and weak market economy and liberalism was a sign that the communist bloc was coming to an end and, being exhausted, the other bloc, the capitalist, had no real rival still standing. Although in 1989 the Communist bloc did not completely fall, the fall of the Berlin Wall was only a warning of what was to happen in the Second World. The alternative to capitalism-liberalism has disappeared and, therefore, the Cold War ended with the victory of the capitalist model..
But as surprising as it may seem, and despite his attempts to predict between the lines the collapse of the USSR, Fukuyama did not say explicitly that the USSR and its satellite states would cease to be united or that the Pact of Warsaw of the USSR was going to be dissolved. What he simply tried to expose is that if the USSR started to adopt capitalist and liberal principles in practice, it would cease to be socialist-Leninist and therefore capitalist-liberal ideas would prevail, whether the United States, Europe or Japan are its biggest. exhibitors.
Were there other rivals?
Francis Fukuyama does not limit himself to speaking of capitalism-liberalism and socialism-Leninism. For him, they are two of the great rivals that liberal capitalist democracies have had to face throughout the twentieth century: socialism-Leninism and fascism, systems that would be applied as forms of government and would eventually disappear almost entirely during the twentieth century, Giving way to liberal and capitalist democratic systems in most cases.
Socialism-Leninism or Communism had been erected as a political and economic model rivaling liberalism from the end of World War I, with the Russian Revolution and the founding of the USSR, until the 1990s, when Fukuyama exposes the ‘end of the history and the last man ”, written after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Truly, communism had been the only ideology that had lasted and created a strong economic system, but not as much as capitalism, illustrated by its catastrophic fall.
The other model that had endangered the existence of liberalism was fascism, a system of government that would eventually be defenestrated from 1945 until the end of World War II, defeated Nazi Germany, the fall of the Italy of Mussolini and totally defeated and occupied imperial fascist Japan. Although some strongholds of fascism in Europe survived, in most cases they were nothing more than undemocratic capitalist regimes., Not proposals for a radically different economic model. Although fascism and socialism-Leninism have fallen, the liberal capitalist system is not free from threats, although, according to Fukuyama, these threats are not as serious as these two systems. Yet the author believes that the two great threats in the 21st century to the capitalist-liberal model will be religious fundamentalism, in particular Islamism, and nationalism.
He focuses on Islamism because an idea has resurfaced significantly since the 1970s. Fukuyama considers Islamism to be in principle unattractive to non-Islamic societies and in particular to Christian societies, as it is seen as the opposite pole to what the Western way of life is. While in Christian countries there is a clear demarcation between civil, criminal and religious, this is not the case in Islamic regimes, whether republics or monarchies, and the idea of Western freedom. does not exist in Muslim countries.
The other big dangerous rival for liberal capitalist democracies according to Fukuyama is nationalism. Nationalisms have caused great damage since the emergence of German and French Romanticism in the 19th century which served to shape it. Throughout the twentieth century, the idea of nation, which is nothing more than a simple abstraction, which exists only in the minds of those who believe in it, has been the cause of bloody wars and genocides, being the most recent and the most savage of Europeans. case of Yugoslavia.
The last man
The posthistoric man, also called “the last man” in his 1991 book, is a being who will base all his economic activity on the satisfaction of his purely materialistic and increasingly refined demands. The interest will be purely economic and there will be no more abstraction in the form of ideology that pushes us to action, to defend our ideals, to fight for them, even to die and to kill so that they are achieved. Conflicts will simply be individual problems or, at most, the product of misunderstanding.
International relations will be based solely on trade. Each state will compete to place its products on the international market, trying to sell them to other neighboring countries while demanding increasingly complex and refined services. There should be no wars, no ethnic conflicts or land claims because over time the idea of “this is my nation and this is my land” would become obsolete. The important thing will be the money and the well-being of the citizens.
The posthistoric world is therefore, according to Fukuyama, a peaceful and prosperous place where scientific and technological development will be what will mark the new bed of history. Discoveries in medicine and other biomedical sciences will be what opens the news, not a massacre in a third world country. Interestingly, Francis Fukuyama indicates that the posthistoric world will be a very boring place and he asks himself, with a certain ironic tone, if perhaps from this boredom of human beings we find the motivation to reactivate the story, Looking for something that will face us again.
Fukuyama’s work exposes what he sees as the end of the story, essentially explaining how the fall of socialism-Leninism resulted in the unstoppable rise of liberal capitalist democracy. Western countries are Europe and the USA, they were entering a new era of world peace as they were not faced with the constant tension of having to prepare to face the politician, Economic and military to another rival which to this day had been Communism.
Gradually, the rest of the world was supposed to export the appropriate Western system, especially the American system, making it a matter of time before the world became a unipolar economic and political planet. The rest of the countries would become liberal democracies in political and capitalist states in the economy. If there were any historical events, they would be small, at most a brief economic crisis or a minor terrorist attack.
Well, we’re a long way from reaching the end of the story. In fact, Fukuyama’s thought has been seen as an example of the Western naivety of the 1990s which believed that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR were synonymous with peace. It is interesting to note that Fukuyama’s mentor, Samuel P. Huntington, had already shown some skepticism about the idea of world peace, claiming in his famous book “The Clash of Civilizations” that the end of the Cold War had given way. the place to a previous conflict: contact and possible wars between homogeneous cultural blocks, which he called “civilizations”.
At the start of the new millennium, exactly what Huntington said would happen. Two historically opposed civilizations, the West and the Islamic world, clashed on the morning of September 11, 2001. Several Islamic fundamentalists attack the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, symbols of American freedom and capitalism. The event claimed the lives of over 3,000 people. It was not an attack; it was a declaration of war. The event would trigger a whole series of conflicts in various countries of the Middle East in response.
Today, radical Islamism remains a major threat, poorly predicted by Fukuyama. The idea of jihad and reclaiming lands that were once Islamic is very much alive and even appealing to people raised in Christian contexts. There aren’t a few blond-haired, blue-eyed ISIS soldiers: they are Westerners who have been captured by Muslim fundamentalists, which makes this threat even greater.
And if Islam itself is not the problem of the Western world, but a small percentage of its believers who have radical and extremist ideas, there are not a few countries that were progressing towards liberal and capitalist democracies but which, after the Arab Spring, have returned to a certain religious fundamentalism. Moreover, countries like Morocco and Turkey, which are capitalist, are far from being true liberal democracies, especially as religious interest is reactivated in Anatolia.
I then there are the successors of the communist bloc: Russia and China. While the Cold War ended with the disintegration of the USSR, its “daughter”, the Russian Federation, has continued to be a powerful rival against the Western world. His regime is not democratic and it does not appear to be democratic in the short term with Vladimir Putin as president. However, it is a very influential country in countries that attempted to enter the European Union, such as Ukraine, which led to a civil war in 2014.
The People’s Republic of China is communist in theory, with a one-party government. However, this country knew very well how to do what the USSR had attempted in the 1980s: to open up to the international market. We have here a curious case and it is really a great danger for the western liberal world, because we have a capitalist country but it is not a democratic country and could serve as an inspiration for the countries which are now democracies to do an involution. If money is important and capitalism works well without democratic government, then there is no reason to keep it.
- Fukuyama, F. (1989) The End of History ?, The National Interest, 16.
- Fukuyama, F. (1992) The End of History and the Last Man, Free Press, New York.