March 9, 2006


The End of His Story (Douglas Kern, 07 Mar 2006, Tech Central Station)

Fukuyama's real problem with neoconservative foreign policy has little to do with America's popularity or international consensus, despite his protestations to the contrary. His problem lies in neoconservatism's tacit refutation of his pet theory. In his 1989 magnum opus, The End of History and the Last Man, Fukuyama argued that liberalism was the final ideology, to which reasonable people could find no superior alternative; history would henceforth consist of individuals and nations struggling to endure the burdens that liberalism places on the human soul. By contrast, neoconservative foreign policy assumes that history is not at an end; that irrationalism and depravity can win anywhere, and may perhaps win everywhere. Neoconservatism demands that righteous nations resist the depredations of evil regimes, by force if necessary and prudent, in order to accelerate the growth of freedom and international security. No disembodied force of History will do our work for us; the world's future is not a straight line pointed at a certain outcome, but rather a jagged and irregular line – the line between good and evil that runs through every human heart. You might think that the events of the last seventeen years would convince nearly anyone that the human heart still has the last word over History. But Fukuyama will not surrender his cherished beliefs without a fight.

He writes: "'The End of History,' in other words, presented a kind of Marxist-Hegelian argument for the existence of a long-term process of social evolution, but one that terminates in liberal democracy rather than communism. In the formulation of the scholar Ken Jowitt, the neoconservative position articulated by people like Kristol and Kagan was, by contrast, Leninist; they believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practiced by the United States."

So it's "Leninist" to apply power and will to achieve liberal democracy ahead of History's schedule. Presumably it was also "Leninist" to apply power and will toward making the Soviet Union fall ahead of schedule. In fairness, I believe that Communism was destined to collapse under the weight of its wickedness and economic ineptitude -- given enough time. But the resolve of the West determined how much of the world Communism could defile on its way down -- and how many people had to die in gulags while waiting for History to arrive. If it was "Leninist" to apply power and will toward expediting the rendezvous of the Evil Empire with the dustbin of History, then sign me up for Leninism.

The same analysis applies to any of America's other wars. Nazism was untenable as a political theory, but who regrets the "Leninism" of applying power and will to throttle Nazism in its crib? The South would have abandoned slavery if left alone for a few generations, but were we Yankees insufferably "Leninist" when we sent the Union armies to give History a little kick in the butt? It's true that good intentions don't justify every war, but come on: is every righteous application of military force "Leninist?"

In fact, Communism lasted longer than it otherwise would have because we aided it in WWII and then not only failed to dispose of it but offered it a foe to prop itself up against afterwards. However, the fact that these systems are untenable in the long run should not prevent us from applying force when it seems to make sense or when morality requires it, as in getting rid of a totalitarian butcher like Saddam.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 9, 2006 8:29 AM


Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 11:36 AM

The intellectual capital invested in Marx's deterministic historiscism was immense while new disciples were being created every day. Reagan called thier bluff. Assuming that the 'contradictions' within any form of tyranny imply an 'expiration date' for the system is another form of determinism. Just because it happened doesn't mean the time and place of the occurance was inevitable. Fukuyama's attachment to the way of thinking is troubling simply because it's so illogical.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 9, 2006 1:39 PM


In point of fact we failed to let Communism expire naturally, which is why it lasted so long.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 1:46 PM


So, the intellectual, academic and statist oriented types had no investment in Marxism? If not for Reagan coming along when he did, why couldn't the entire fraud have continued for another 70 years? Inevitability is always easy to see in retrospect.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 9, 2006 3:42 PM


Yes, they had an investment in it, they just couldn't make it work.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 3:50 PM


And they might very well still be trying. It's a religion, after all.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 9, 2006 4:09 PM


But one that requires an enemy to last.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 4:15 PM

Or you can make them up as you go along. The metaphysics of 'class enemies' is elastic, eternal.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 9, 2006 5:07 PM

Regimes have had to reform pretty fast without them, as witness the changes in China.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 5:34 PM