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Fukuyama and his Critics

Hausarbeit (Hauptseminar) 2000 22 Seiten

Politik - Politische Theorie und Ideengeschichte


Table of content

1. Introduction

2. A Summary of Fukuyama’s “End of History”
2.1. The Question of Legitimacy
2.2. A Universal History
2.3. "Thymos" and the "Need for Recognition"
2.4. International Relationships
2.5. “The Last Man”

3. Fukuyama under the Attack of Criticism
3.1. Timothy Fuller- The Relativity of History and Ideology
3.2. David Satter-The Underestimated Threat of Totalitarianism
3.3. David Stove-Another Course of History...
3.4. Frederick L. Will- Hegel and Modern Liberal Democracy?!

4. Science Fiction vs. Political Philosophy
4.1. Qualification of Science Fiction as Counter-Argument
4.2. Ending Point “Brave New World “
4.3. The World Past "1984"

5. Fukuyama’s Reactions
5.1. A Reply to His Critics
5.2. Second Thoughts

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

8. Internet Sources

1. Introduction

Back in the year 1989 the American Francis Fukuyama, who had received his B. A. from Cornell University in Classics and his PhD from Harvard in Political Science, was a member of the Policy Planning Staff of the US Department of State as well as a consultant to the RAND (Research and Development) Corporation. He aroused much interest with his essay “The End of History?”, which first appeared in the political magazine “The National Interest” in Summer 1989 and became one of the most controversial publications about political philosophy of the nineteen-nineties. As an reaction to his numerous critics, Fukuyama explained and developed the ideas he had introduced through his essay further in the book “The End of History and The Last Man”.

This essay intends to first give a summary of Fukuyama’s theories and afterwards approach his work critically by juxtaposing some of his views to a chosen number of criticism, even going as far as to involve two examples from Science Fiction literature (Huxley's "Brave New World" and Orwell's "1984") as potential alternative concepts to the one (i.e. liberal democracy) Fukuyama presented as the ultimate system in his book. Since Fukuyama actively participated in the debate about his work, his own explanations, corrections and revision from answers to his critics and the essay “Second Thoughts: The Last Man in a Bottle.”, in which he critically looked back on his own opinions 10 years after “The End of History?” was written, will be regarded.

2. Summary of “The End of History”

The political events of 1989 such as the signs of communism’s decline in Eastern Europe and in Asia as well as the world-wide development of politics in general were interpreted as a distinct movement towards liberal democracy by Fukuyama. Inspired by this notion, he posed the question whether liberal democracy might be the “End of History” in the Hegelian sense. First in his essay, later in his book he tried to find arguments on the level of politics, economy and philosophy that would support his theory. Furthermore, a great number of examples from history were adhibited in order to show the practical relevance and actuality of his thesis.

Fukuyama’s argumentation is based on Hegel’s definition of history as a unique, coherent evolutionary process, which includes the experiences of all human beings of all times. Thus the “End of History” represents the final point which would be reached when the evolution of ideology had come to an end after a long process of dialectic selection (namely history). The result would be an unchallenged system that fits and satisfies humans wishes and needs best. For Fukuyama this supreme state at the "End of History" is liberal democracy.

2.1. A Question of Legitimacy

The author opens his argumentation in favour of liberal democracy with a closer inspection of the authoritarian states and the emergence of liberal democracy as the only unchallenged universal form of legitimate government. He defends his view that liberal democracy will be the end of ideological evolution by pointing out the weaknesses of the so called “strong states” (i.e. states that are ruled by a leader or an elite) and by explaining the advantages liberal democracy has in comparison to its rivals.

The possession of long-term legitimacy of a government from the governed serves Fukuyama as a major indicator for the superiority of a political system. Whereas liberal democracy is founded on values of universal recognition such as equality and liberty, which apply to all members of society, non-democratic systems derive their legitimacy from only temporary and less durable justifications for the rule of a minority over a majority.

Examining the steadiness of right-wing dictatorship’s legitimacy, examples in history (e.g. Latin America) have shown that rightists’ attempts to gain control over a society and its institutions usually succeeded in times of political, social and economic turbulence and crisis, when their existence could be justified by the need to restore order and stability by means of a strong, determined rule. In case they failed to reach their aims, the support of the ruled and therefore their legitimacy was lost. And being able to fulfil their task, they did not have a reason for existence any longer. In either situation they were overthrown or decayed from the inside because of the ruling elite’s demoralisation. In the past fascist systems failed as their alleged ethnic superiority through military domination proved wrong. But even if they had been successful, the means for justifying their rule would have vanished with the completion of their aim.

But also left-wing totalitarianism as in the former USSR was not founded on durable legitimacy. Although their promise to raise people’s material standard of living was kept in itself, the comparison with the even higher increased affluence of the western world, which developed parallelly, entailed the downfall of communism. Despite the fact that China still remains communist, events as the student protests on Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the brutal reaction of the government through which they were put down show that the legitimacy of the system is in decline and the only way it still can be retained is terror and military force. The latest example of the suppression of Chinese people was set with the ban of the Falun Gong sect, which is practising slow motion martial arts combined with Taoist and Buddhist teachings. The number of people who joined this movement since its foundation by US- emigrant Li Hongzhi in 1992 was estimated to amount to more than 20 million people. The sect's prohibition results from the government's fear that this originally non-political mass- movement might become breeding ground of anti- communist thought and action.

Fukuyama acknowledges that religious fundamentalism (e.g. Islam) may represent a permanently functioning form of government with the restriction that its legitimacy is only effective within the religious community and can therefore not be universally applied.

Ergo he concludes that the only remaining alternative is liberal democracy. Of course a state could be liberal without being democratic and vice versa. But, as Fukuyama claims, only the combination of liberalism, which protects the political, economic and religious rights of the individual, and of democratic principles, which guarantee each citizen potential participation in the political process, represent a stabile and durable system. The sovereignty of the people emerges as the only universal principle that provides a government with lasting legitimacy among the governed.

2.2. A Universal History

In former times as frequently as today the question whether a universal history exists has been raised. Following philosophers as Hegel, Kant and Marx, Fukuyama also discusses this unsolved problem. It is obvious why this matter needs to be contemplated by him, because only under the proposition that history is a universal, evolutionary process, a thesis about the “End of History” makes sense.

One of the earlier ideologies to introduce the concept of universal history was Christian religion by preaching equality of all human beings before God and eventually in afterlife. Continuing this tradition, but concentrating on earthly life rather than heaven, Hegel assumed a coherent development of all human societies from simple tribal communities, which are based on slavery and agricultural economy of subsistence, via different forms of theocracy, monarchy and feudal aristocracy to modern liberal democracy and technologically determined capitalism as the highest possible level.

Apart from the believe that capitalism would be the endpoint of historical evolution, Marx shared Hegel’s opinion. He criticised that Hegel’s view did not resolve the class struggle and therefore presumed communism would be the "End of History" instead. The Modernisation theory, which was emitted in middle of the twentieth century, regarded the development of the Western states towards liberal democracy as an universally applicable course. This thesis soon had to be dismissed being charged with ethnocentrism. Now Fukuyama unlike his predecessors makes modern science and its method, as the first unidirectional and moreover generally accessible and accepted process, the outset of his argumentation in defence of the universal history theory. The natural sciences, which are founded on the laws of nature, function as regulators that have the history of the human race head towards certain aims e.g. military ones.

Against the original intention of outdoing rivals, the strive for military advantages unifies states through their common pursuit and the goal-orientated emergence of homogenous economic and social structures such as the gradual shift of importance from religious and social communities (e.g. family) towards economic interests. Science is mainly employed to satisfy ever-growing human demands. This is automatically leading to more rational and effective forms in which labour is organised. The level of material comfort as measured by goods, services and luxuries available to a nation serves as an indicator for how successfully science is made use of. According to Fukuyama one of the reasons for the failure of communism was the attempt to abolish the division of labour in order to dissolve the differences between the classes. As an working exception despite its lack of the economic and social requirements normally essential to the reaching of a high standard of living, Fukuyama names those regions like the middle-east which are able to pay for modern technology thanks to their natural resources but couldn’t develop and produce these things themselves.

Fukuyama further argues that highly developed post-industrial societies demand great amounts of well educated professionals whose intellectual and economic liberty promotes the pace of innovation and a complex division of labour. This supportive atmosphere of freedom is best provided by a liberal system. Research and production under control of centralised bureaucracy (e.g. communist planned economy) is unfit to fulfil the conditio sine qua non of computer age effectively. Furthermore centrally planned economy and pricing are likely to depreciate personal labour and consequently have negative effects on work ethic as the example of communist countries has proved. Taking one thing with another, Fukuyama considers liberalism to be the most appropriate form of state in times conducted by scientific advance.

Given the history of mankind is directed by the progress of science to a great extent, could it possibly be reversed? The author answers this question negatively and elucidates that only under the condition the entire civilisation was extinguished without leaving any imprint on its successors, history could truly become cyclical.

However, the influence of the natural sciences only accounts for the development of capitalism without offering an explanation for the unfolding of democracy. The causality of the relationship between economic development and stable democracy has not been demonstrated. On the contrary, many examples have shown that economic success is often more compatible with authoritarianism than with democracy, which leads Fukuyama to scrutinise the reasons for the increasing combination of liberalism and democracy. Looking at Hegel’s characterisation of man’s fundamental "struggle for recognition" appears helpful in his search for answers.

2.4. “Thymos” and the Need for Recognition

Already in Plato’s efforts to portray archetypal features of human nature the need for recognition expressed by the term "thymos" played a central role. Plato’s "thymos" may be understood as the human desire to be regarded by one’s environment the way one evaluates oneself. If one’s self-esteem and the recognition one receives from others dissent, the reaction is anger. In this respect "thymos" represents a source of human discord which often results in confrontation and war. Disappointing one’s own expectations of oneself on the other hand causes shame, whereas their fulfilment occasions pride. In extreme cases "thymos" manifests in extraordinary ambitions called “megalothymia”, which give rise to outstanding achievements e.g. in politics, warfare, economy, science and art.

Likewise Hegel considered the “need for recognition” as a basic human drive. Due to his teachings prestige and dignity possess more importance for human beings than material affluence. He regarded the fight for recognition as the fundamental human conflict, which resulted in society's division into masters and servants. However, it would be impossible for either of them to obtain satisfying recognition, as long as they and therewith the value of their appreciation of each other were not equal. For this reason, Hegel resumed, the course of history is leading to the equalisation of all humans. The French and the American Revolution represent highly significant milestones in this process. In other words, if human actions were as much influenced by "thymos" as Plato and Hegel assumed, the resultant of political evolution could only be democracy.

In societies that strive for democracy a fundamental tension exists between the aim of "isothymia" (i.e. universal recognition) and "thymos". Recognition which is not granted selectively but universally and by an anonymous institution (i.e. the state) rather than by a small group whose opinions one thinks of highly is too abstract to satisfy "thymos". To solve this conflict, Fukuyama proposes that the focus of "thymos" should be channelled into economic zeal. Entrepreneurship, the arts, sports and other socially beneficial categories offer an alternative outlet for "megalothymia" in order to avoid the endangerment of democracy through anti-egalitarian political or religious “thymos”-driven behaviour such as nationalism, imperialism or religious fundamentalism.

2.4. International Relationships

After the theoretical treatise of the merits of liberal democracy, Fukuyama transfers his attention to political practice and international relationships.

What was later called power politics by realist politicians like Kissinger had originally been expressed by Machiavelli. From this perspective world politics could be compared to a set of billiard balls which interact due to the laws of physics regardless of their internal constitution. The realist view on politics also assumed that as a principle all states aimed at expansion and that military power was consequently the only relevant determiner of international relationships. In order to avoid war a balance of power between the states would necessarily have to be maintained. This view, which is also known as “Realpolitik”, is criticised by Fukuyama in two points.

He suggests that not only individuals but also states follow “thymiotic” principles beyond wishes for military expansion and seek recognition of their legitimacy amongst other states. Secondly, historical development and its influences on world politics should not be underestimated. In contrast to realist politicians Fukuyama takes the position that the inner situation of a state plays an important role in international politics. He points out that increasing liberalisation within states has diminished the tolerance for civilian casualties in war and increased the seriousness of cause required to involve military. Additionally, the great extension of expenses which would be necessary to lead a war and would even damage the winner’s economy prevent states from appealing to arms easily. In modern liberal societies the expression of “megalothymia” has found alternatives to the battle field.

Of course nationalism is a possible outlet for “thymos” (e.g. the Yugoslavia conflict) and poses a threat to peace. But Fukuyama prophesies that nationalism will become more tolerant and retreat to the sphere of private life analogue to the development of religion. The

EU is given as an example for a union of different nationalities which are still proud of the cultures they practice without letting them interfere with matters of supra-regional nature. Fukuyama even assumes that Nationalism will even be dying out over the next generations.

2.6. The Last Man

After Fukuyama’s argumentation, liberal democracy appears to be triumphant over its rivals, but he takes a even closer look in order to find out whether its also the perfect choice for it’s own sake, regardless of its advantages over other forms of state.

For instance, the system has been criticised by the Left for the economic and social inequality of its citizens. Shortly, capitalism was accused of an inability to fully satisfy the “thymiotic” wants of each and every individual. However, Fukuyama counters that its high social mobility, its concentration on labour instead of conventional social relations as well as its emphasis on talent rather than privileges in occupational matters produces a broad middle class. Capitalism hence alters the problem of poverty from an material issue into difference of recognition, which is granted due to achievements in profession or career. The satisfaction of economic needs and “thymos” is not necessarily identical, but might differ greatly. A stable capitalist society prerequires methods to approach balance between these two interests. As an example for those regulations, Fukuyama brings forward the governmental reactions to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Instead of providing separate accommodations for handicapped people, public facilities were made handicapped-friendly to demonstrate the recognition of the disabled. Communism tried to install universal equality in exchange for individual freedom but failed when the party officials established as a privileged class above all others. Judging from the importance of social problems, which are being discussed these days (e.g. of homosexual Boy Scouts), for the majority of people who are living in liberal, democratic societies, Fukuyama concludes that the greater inequalities between humans no longer exist. Since only when the larger number of people’s problems are solved, there will be room to deal with those of minorities.

Liberal democracy has also been attacked from the Right. The value of recognition under the condition that it is automatically guaranteed to everyone and the way its quality should be measured without a range of contrasts were put into question by voices from the Right as had been done by Nietzsche before them. The German philosopher had expressed the idea that the motivation for human beings to achieve extraordinary results derives from the unequal way in which recognition is distributed. Taking away these differences of status by granting equality and respect to everyone without a necessity to earn it, would eventually remove the incentive to please and be esteemed. In the name of progress Nietzsche propagated a system which would not support anybody the same way (including the weak) but only it’s strongest and most capable members. As a logical conclusion he spoke against the democratic movement.

Fukuyama, however, remains optimistic and trusts that even though everyone is equal on the constitutional level in a democratic state, the existence of "megalothymia" can not be prevented but only be controlled by means of law and order. People will continue striving for the respect and recognition of their environment, since their thymotic wants are not fulfilled by the state alone, as it has been shown earlier. Yet, the manifestation of "megalothymia" is merely restricted to harmless areas such as institutionalised sports, enterprises and civic life. It is interesting to observe that despite "megalothymia" represents a completely non-democratic force, it is the most productive contributor to human progress also in liberal democracy.

Aristotle postulated the thesis that societies of “last men” without "thymos", which would be driven by desire and reason, and societies of “thymiotic” “first men” would be replacing one another in endless repetition. Differing from Plato, who realised the value of a positively directed struggle for recognition and declared reason, desire and "thymos" to be the three elementary features of his ideal state.

Finally, Fukuyama underlines his conviction that the "End of History" has dawned for those states who have already established a stable liberal democracy (e.g. the USA) and shows confident that all the others will follow. Though, he admits that the process might take a long time and encounter many setbacks. In a metaphor at the end of his book, he compares the course of history to the march of a wagon train towards town: some wagons are in leading position, while others lack behind, a few might even get waylaid temporarily, but in the end they all reach the aim.

3. Fukuyama Under the Attack of Criticism

The publication of Fukuyama “The End of History?” in The National Interest excited criticism in abundance. Albeit not all of his critics had read and contemplated its contents thoroughly, for a great number of polemics was merely grounded on misunderstandings, this should not distract from the fact that a multitude of protests against his theories was justified.

Hereafter a selection critic’s voices and comments on Fukuyama shall get a hearing.

3.1. Timothy Fuller- Relativity of History and Ideology

Timothy Fuller, who is a professor of political science at Colorado College, for instance remarkes critically that it was nonsensical to apply Hegel’s dialectic approach to the future for the unpredictable turns history might take. We can not know the end of history since each succeeding moment of history potentially alters our picture of the overall shape of past experience. (Fuller, p. 93) In his opinion the future value of liberal democracy in relation to other systems could not be assessed, as a comparison to unforeseen concurrence is impossible.

Fukuyama’s emphasis on the success of liberal democracy as an idea is met with Fuller’s application of Hegel, who had insisted that significant ideas are never so impotent as to remain merely ideas. (Fuller, p.93) Fuller expresses dissatisfaction with the lacking actuality of the ideas Fukuyama proclaimed to be triumphant.

Another point reviewed by Fuller is Fukuyama’s switching position between a voluntarist and a determinist. On one hand Fukuyama reasons that history develops after people’s concepts about the meaning of the world, which represents a voluntaristic view. Contrarily to this he argues in a deterministic way that the USSR would get “stuck in history” without introducing liberal democracy. Fuller requites this demand as follows: This is inattentive to the disjointed plurality of histories of nations, regions, and peoples, which is the material context of the abstract idea “ liberal democracy ” in which people must adapt the idea, organizing themselves for themselves. Fukuyama treats a momentarily dominant ideational consensus as a first principle to which we appeal both as a justification for choosing liberal democracy and as proof of the necessity of submitting to liberal democracy.

(Fuller, p.94) Briefly, Fuller accuses Fukuyama of “liberal democracy-centrism”.

3.2. David Satter-The Underestimated Threat of Totalitarianism

Former Moscow correspondent for the "Financial Times" of London David Satter announces he had detected two major weaknesses in Fukuyama's treatise. First of which, as he explains, was Fukuyama's failure to appreciate the extent of totalitarianism's challenge to the West. Regarding the reforms in the Soviet Union as the definite end of communism [...] assumes that the essence of Marxism-Leninism lies in specific political arrangements rather than in its overall spiritual pretensions; but what is distinctive about totalitarian regimes is their claim to be the source of morality and truth. (Satter, p.95) Satter objects to Fukuyama's optimistic belief that the battle against totalitarian systems was already won, for the temporary breakdown of a system did by no means exclude its revival in future times, as long as the ideology on which it was founded itself had not been defeated. Satter continues that [...], communist leaders may acknowledge the practical superiority of liberal institutions. But in the absence of any acknowledgement of liberal democracy's moral superiority, this only indicates a willingness to exploit the benefits of liberalism to reinforce what they assume is a morally superior communist metaphysical framework. (Satter, p.95) Communist China provides a vivid example for this statement. Recognising the advantages of a free market, Chinese government is adopting liberal principles in the economic sector while still clinging strongly to communist ideas.

Further Satter adds that Fukuyama had not only underestimated the power of totalitarianism but also the vulnerability to it of the modern world. Totalitarian ideologies, no less than liberal ideas, exist as a potential prior to their realization. And if liberal ideals of freedom and equality are attractive by virtue of their demonstrable ability to improve the condition of man, totalitarian ideologies are attractive because they claim to offer a way out of the spiritual crisis of modernity. (Satter, p.95) Due to Satter the “vacuum of faith” (i.e. the uncertainty about religious and moral values) which has been caused by modern science could be filled by both totalitarian ideas or liberal, democratic ones. Without evident objective moral superiority of any system, all ideologies have likewise chances to appeal to people.

Ten years after Fukuyama's article and Satter's reply, the situation is still doubtful. Although Russia names itself a liberal democracy today as Fukuyama had predicted in 1989, the system is marked by high instability, poverty and corruption. Satter's protest is supported by the latest revelations of the Russian presidential elections in spring 2000 which clearly showed that communist ideology is not dead but regaining ground amongst the Russian electorate. Increasing social distress and lacking improvement of the majority's economic situation despite the introduction of liberal democracy explains the great number of votes for the communist candidate Sjuganow of 29.21%, who reached the second best result after the 52.94% of winner Putin (turnout 68.74%).

3.3. David Stove- Another Course of History...

Interpreting the political development of the western world differently from Fukuyama, professor David Stove rejects his theory about the victory of liberal democracy. To begin with, he reminds of the importance of Enlightenment values (e.g. secularism, utilitarianism and egalitarianism) for the modern western world. Fukuyama and Stove both agree on the fact that these values are having great impact on today’s life. The conflict between both opinions reveals when Fukuyama’s conviction that those moral values combined with a free market result in the ideal political system is opposed by Stove who claims that economic liberalism and equality are incompatible because of contradicting each other. The fundamental moral value of the Enlightenment is equality. But what inequality is more cruel or more glaring than that which is inescapable from the free market: the inequality between those who can afford to buy and those who cannot? (Stove, p.98) Stove’s logical conclusion is that the idea of equality can best be put into practice by socialism. He argues against liberal democracy insisting that this mixture promoted by Fukuyama has been unsuccessfully been tried before (i.e. in the 19th century) with the effect that socialism emerged as an alternative. It is true, he admits, that the Chinese and Russians are disillusioned with socialism today, but [...] we are not, and that is what matters more. (Stove, p.98) This is underpinned by the observation that the welfare state still grows every year at about the same staggering rate as it has done since 1900. (Stove, p.98) Summing it up, Stove presents socialism as a potent rival to liberal democracy who is strengthening with uncertain, varying speed.

3.4. Frederick L. Will- Hegel and Modern Liberal Democracy?!

Frederick L. Will deprecates Fukuyama’s reference to the Hegelian idea of freedom in connection with today’s concept of liberal democracy, pointing out the discrepancies between their understanding of liberalism. Whereas Hegel demanded political freedom for people with knowledge and insight only, the modern democracy, Fukuyama speaks of, grants these rights to all citizens of age regardless of their educational background. That is why Will judges as follows: Just as whatever authority, or suspicion associated with the name of Hegel cannot be attached to populist versions of democratic practice, so, too, it cannot be attached to those versions of democratic ideology that conceive the relations between individuals and their political institutions in the Jeffersonian way. In these versions, individuals are taken to be the receptacles of inalienable rights that are independent of the institutions, and the institutions to be primarily mechanisms for the defense and cultivation of these rights. (Will, p.99)

4. Science Fiction vs. Political Philosophy

4.1. Qualification of Science Fiction as Counter Argument

Not only did critics strongly oppose Fukuyama’s view that the ideological competitor to liberal democracy were defeated and that this remaining form of government would consequently prevail in future times, but also science fiction literature offers various alternative concepts. Although science fiction is often regarded as unrealistic and far-fetched at the time it is published, writers such as Verne, Wells and Heinlein have shown that fiction become reality occasionally. One reason why some science fiction novels anticipate inventions and discoveries is that they are often rooted in the realities. Taking up more or less obvious trends of their times, authors think of possible developments and consequences by means of their imagination. On the other hand science fiction has also been an inspiration to science. In fact, many science fiction authors have been scientists themselves. Together this genre of literature and science form a fruitful symbiosis, for where science fiction is concerned with the theoretical solution of human problems, unfulfilled human needs, dreams as well as nightmares, science seeks for ways that allow humans to make wishes come true or to prevent evils by gaining power and control over nature.

4.2. Ending Point "Brave New World"

By looking at Aldous Huxley's novel "Brave New World", the fact that there are potential non-liberal, non-democratic alternatives to the system, Fukuyama tried to prove ideologically superior to all others, shall be demonstrated. Indeed, the “Brave New World” seems an increasingly relevant social, political and economic counter concept to liberal democracy, since the technological requirements to induce and maintain a system as it was described by Huxley are almost met today. Alone the potentiality of creating a “Brave New World” is sufficient and justifies the serious consideration of Huxley’s anti-utopian sketch of a society as a possible successor of liberal democracy.

In Huxley's book the installation of the "Brave New World" followed a disastrous war which had caused unspeakable misery to the human kind. After all the suffering, people submitted voluntarily to a leadership that would reinforce order and guarantee a better, peaceful future. In the “Brave New World” human life is not determined by natural variety and accident anymore, but brought under control in order to avoid social instability. Society is divided into five different castes of which “Alpha” is the highest and “Epsilon” the lowest one. No longer do human beings reproduce themselves through sexual intercourse, bear children and raise them in families, but ova are inseminated artificially, the embryos bred and manipulated in hatchery and conditioning centres. “Alphas” are made of the best genetic material, whereas the others are biologically adjusted and cloned due to the needs of society. Children are mass-educated and conditioned to become functioning units of society. Almost everyone is satisfied with their life thanks to an elaborate system of mechanisms such as the biological and psychological adaptation to their situation, the consummation of the drug “soma” and leisure entertainment as promiscuity and “feelies” (i.e. movies which engage all senses of the audience). Individualism is replaced by a utilitarian mass-orientated culture which serves "the greatest happiness of the greatest number". Those who show individualistic tendencies despite all preventive efforts and means, have to live on islands separated from the main society.

With today's enormous depots of ABC weapons a destruction of global extent could easily take place if only a small number of arms got into the wrong hands (e.g. of fanatics or terrorists). Under the condition that the world was deranged by any world-wide catastrophe, the introduction of a totalitarian rule and a new world order would be possible.

Moreover, it only seems a question of time until the reproduction, cloning and goal- directed genetic manipulation of human beings in laboratories will be possible in the real world. Lately newspapers reported that the American biotech-group Celera Genomics had announced that the human genes would be decoded by the end of the year 2000. Of course this date is a very doubtful deadline, but however long it may still take scientists to complete this task, the statement itself was a sign of confidence from experts. One might also argue that knowing the exact structure of the DNA without a clue of what most of the genes are responsible for, is as useless as being able to hear and pronounce words of a foreign language one does not understand at all. Yet, once familiar with the components of a language or as in this case the DNA, one might find out their functions by experimenting. Children who were born with an genetically conditioned immune deficiency have already been treated successfully, which illustrates the progress genetic engineering.

Other circumstances the novel describes do already exist. For instance, the history of drug use and abuse reaches far back into ancient times. These days drugs such as prozac regulate depressive people's body chemistry so they can lead a normal life, alcohol and marijuana highly popular all over the world.

Also the correlation of human behaviour and environmental influences, as well as the possibilities of psychological manipulation have always been an important topic for human beings. In 1913 J.B.Watson coined the term “behaviourism” which is famous for experiments as Pavlov's conditioning of dogs.

Altogether, the conditions it takes for the creation of a perfectly controlled, conflictfree "Brave New World", which is working more efficiently than a liberal democracy with its multitude of different individualistic interests ever could, appear to exist already or to be on their way of being fulfilled.

4.3. The World Past "1984"

In relation to the latest development on television, the phrase “Big Brother is watching you.” opens new perspectives on the current time and society. A house full of cameras for total surveillance of its inhabitants leaves no room for privacy. TV-watchers assume the position of “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s novel “1984”, who observes people and eliminates disfavoured individuals. Here begins the examination of the question in which aspects the fiction in “1984” has already come true and in what further points it might become reality in future.

Orwell paints the picture of a place called “Oceania” which is governed by the totalitarian “INGSOC” under the leader “Big Brother”. Its society is subdivided into three classes: the “Inner Party” (upper class), the “Outer Party” (middle class) and the “Proles” (proletariat). “The Party” watches and controls everyone and everything. All information about past, present and future is manipulated by the rulers. All around the clock the inhabitants of “Oceania” are monitored by screens which are able to send and receive simultaneously. People’s physical and verbal expression is standardised. “Newspeak” is meant to unify and simplify language, even narrow the range of thoughts. The slightest deviation from normal behaviour evokes the suspicion of “Thought Crime” which is punished by confronting people with their greatest fears in “Room 101”.

In little more than fifty years after “1984” was written, the monitoring devices of the real world have outreached the ones in Orwell’s novel. Mini and infrared cameras, barely visible microphones and ultra sensitive bugging systems, cameras in banks, streets, offices and other public places, spy satellites taking detailed photographs from space are no longer a novelist’s fantasies but elements of everyday life. For safety’s sake, so the government says.

Steve Wright’s report on “Echelon”, which is a global surveillance system of satellites and message services used by the USA and several other countries to monitor international communication, caused a great scandal in 1998. With the help of computers phone calls, faxes and e-mails, which contain important data to economy, politics and criminal investigation, are filtered out by keywords search. This practice comes very close to the methods depicted in “1984”. And naturally, also the private users of the communicational systems could be espied by installations like “Echelon”. It should be remarked that the involved governments still deny the existence of “Echelon”.

It is not only surveillance but also universal manipulation of information and people which is getting easier the more advanced and global mediums, such as the internet, get involved. Sources of information which enjoy great world-wide credibility and influence (e.g. BBC World or CNN) might effectively spread news and perspectives on events which lack objectivity or are faked.

Another parallel of the current time to “1984” can be found in the construction of speech. Concepts like Political Correctness are set up in order to alter language and ideas as is “Newspeak” in Orwell’s fiction. Even though the aim of PC is to fight discrimination of women, disabled, ethnic and other minorities, it is still a radical attempt to extinguish mental concepts by abolishing their expressions. The natural process of language creation (finding an expression for an existing concept) is thus reversed. This is supposed to be less of a criticism than an observation that structures the government in “1984” used to control people are also applied in the world today regardless of their purpose. After all, one should never forget that these mechanism, once they are established, bear the possibility of use and misuse.

Supposed a very powerful group of persons managed to make intelligent use of all the previously discussed means and mediums, there seems to be a possibility, though not a great one, they could take over and control the world or at least a country the way “Big Brother” and his party do in “1984”.

5. Fukuyama’s Reactions

5.1. A Reply to His Critics

None of the objections that have been raised to my thesis strike me as decisive, and the ones that might have been decisive were never raised. (Reply to My Critics p.21) With these words Fukuyama opens the reply to his critics, which was also printed in “The National Interest” two issues after the publication of his controversial essay.

Before he takes up a number of arguments against his thesis, Fukuyama asks his critics to bear in mind that he simply made [...] the observation that a remarkable consensus has developed in the world concerning the legitimacy and viability of liberal democracy, and is aware that this [...] ideological consensus is neither fully universal nor automatic, but exists to an arguably higher degree than at any time in the past century. (Reply to My Critics, p.22) Moreover , the assurance of knowing that the democratic revolution is far from complete in the world and will, in Hegelian terms, require considerable work and struggle to implement more fully (Reply to My Critics, p.24) is made, as he calls it absurd to think that the complicated process of liberalisation and democratisation could take place without setbacks and defeats.

Fukuyama accepts without further discussion as a premise that historical truth is relative . And of course, his theories were relative products of his personal view and time as well, but the unpredictable nature of the future did not prevent him from contemplating the possible the end of history. For unless one posits something like an end of history, it is philosophically impossible to prevent historicism from degenerating into simple relativism, or from undermining any notion of progress. He continues that Hegel understood with full philosophical clarity that the end of history was a necessary support for the modern state, for otherwise its underlying concepts of right would have not basis in truth. (Reply to My Critics, p.23) Relativism negates the universal existence of values, rights and legitimacy. Applied to politics this would mean that no system (not even Hitler's fatal fascism) could be rejected without objective moral reasons. In contrast to this, Fukuyama's “End of History” theory is supposed to help as ideological aim and construction of a value system (i.e. liberal democracy) which bases on being beneficial the majority of all people. That way Fukuyama justifies his look into the uncertain future of politic and human evolution.

Fukuyama reacts the accusation of having underestimating the power of communism by answering that it was an undeniable fact that Gorbachev's reforms of the late nineteen- eighties had left a deep impression on the political system and practice of the Soviet Union, for “perestroika” had undermined the authority of the old communist regime and caused its loss of political control. Keeping this development in view Fukuyama utters: It is hard for me to understand how David Satter, for example, can maintain that the Soviet Union remains a totalitarian regime claiming to be the sole "source of morality and arbiter of truth." (Reply to My Critics, p.25) However, this reply to those who had warned of celebrating victory over communism too soon does not take into consideration that Mr. Satter and other critics were mainly speaking of the potential threat of communism as an ideology, which would not be banned by failed attempts of realisation e.g. the Soviet Union. Also, Fukuyama's argument that the 1989 student protests on Tiananmen Square clearly showed that liberal ideas are alive amongst the Chinese people is out-weighted by the parallel and obviously more effective existence of communism in China.

Fukuyama attaches more importance to nationalism as a rival to liberal democracy than to communism . It is not farfetched to imagine the return of military confrontations in Europe over national rather than ideological issues. (Reply to My Critics, p.26) But the situation which Fukuyama describes as serious endangerment to the liberal democracy in the whole Western World is most unlikely to arrive. Before a nationalist confrontation reaches the scale of the major ideological wars of history or becomes a serious threat to world order, several conditions must be met. First, it must turn into imperialism-that is, becoming systematized and universalistic, justifying not just the liberation of co-ethics trapped on the other side of a border but the outright domination of other peoples. And it must take place in a relatively big, powerful and capable country. (Reply to My Critics, p.27) Local nationalism, as tragic as its consequences might be for the people involved (e.g. ex-Yugoslavia), would not influence the political values of other systems.

5.2. Second Thoughts

In 1999 Fukuyama took the offer by Owen Harries to write a ten-year retrospective about his End of History hypothesis for the National Interest, although he had not changed his mind about the international situation of politics . Nothing that has happened in world politics or the global economy in the past ten years challenges, in my view, the conclusion that liberal democracy and a market-oriented economic order are the only viable options for modern societies. (Second Thoughts, p.16)

Despite his unchanged belief in liberal democracy, he cannot deny that during the decade after the “End of History” article and book an ideological shift to the political Left had been taking place in Europe, as for instance indicated by the rule of the Labour Party in England and the SPD victory in the latest German election. In addition, considerable number of the former communist countries in Eastern Europe shows a tendency to return to socialist ideas again. In Fukuyama’s opinion the great economic crisis of the past years is responsible for this communist and consequently globalisation-reversed trend. Russia’s inability to establish a functioning modern democracy and stabile economy is regarded with pessimism even by Fukuyama: Today, it is hard to be confident that the simple passage of time will lead to either better democracy or market institutions in Russia. (Second Thoughts, p.21) He suggests that the obstacles for Russia's success are culturally based: whatever the wishes of the Russian people at some level to join Western Europe, they, unlike the Eastern Europeans, do not have the social habits needed to create modern economic institutions and a market economy. (Second Thoughts, p.21) This, however, does not disillusion Fukuyama. Not giving up his belief in the superiority of liberal democracy, he proposes the liberal democratic system should be rethought and improved. He comments on the communist challenge of liberal democracy [...] that the End of History hypothesis will emerge at the other end not only unscathed, but stronger in many ways. (Second Thoughts, p.21)

Fukuyama analyses the Left's incompatibility with globalisation and attempts to demonstrate that the Leftist movement has to fail, since globalisation is already too advanced and consolidated to be reversed. According to Fukuyama a centralised political system of the Left is designed to mainly operate on the national level, while economy today has reached such a high degree of complexity that it would be impossible to abstain from international business relationships without dropping far below the economic standard of the Western countries. Besides, information technology (e.g. television, internet) has already spread in the shape of a global net and connects the greater number of states in the world with one another, resulting in even greater decentralisation.

Having finished with the Left, Fukuyama shortly turns to the conservative rule of the Right which had often been proved economically successful, as for example soft authoritarianism in Asian countries. Here he points out that the problem with any regime that bases its legitimacy on economic performance rather than a more basic underlying principle is that it is vulnerable in bad times. (Second Thoughts, p.22)

After all, Fukuyama introduces a problem which altogether alters the picture after his painstaking defence of liberal democracy and argumentation against its competitors. He informs that a realisation about the nature and influence of modern science had moved him to write this revision in the first place. His discovery revealed that his argumentation, which was meant to show history was directional, progressive and that it finally results in the modern liberal system, was elementarily flawed. The “End of History” had been analysed from various angles, but only a comparably small number of critics had brought forward what Fukuyama eventually accepts as a beating counter argument against his thesis: History cannot come to an end as long as modern natural science has no end; and we are on the brink of new developments in science that will, in essence, abolish what Alexandre Koj è ve called “ mankind as such. ” (Second Thoughts, p.17) Two circumstances would have to arise before the “End of History” could be proclaimed. The first condition would be the existence of a universal human nature, the second one demands the finiteness of science. As the nineteenth century had been the time of industrialisation and twentieth century the heydays of high-tech and IT (Information Technology), the twenty-first century would promise to become an age even more intricate IT and bio-technology. Fukuyama implies that biological development might enable people in future to create and control a whole new society by producing human beings who would all perfectly fit their environment and therefore be fully satisfied with their life: a situation that has never been achieved by any existing ideology. This would be the end of human history indeed, not terminating in the ultimate triumph of liberal democracy, as Fukuyama is still hoping, but in the beginning of a new species. Fukuyama finishes the review of his earlier theories with these sentences: The open-ended character of modern natural science suggests that within the next couple of generations we will have knowledge and technologies that will allow us to accomplish what social engineers of the past failed to do. At that point, we will have definitely finished human History because we will have abolished human beings as such. And then, a new, posthuman history will begin. (Second Thoughts, p.33)

6. Conclusion

The original theories, Fukuyama first offered to the public in 1989, contain a great amount of idealism, as they express a strong conviction for the superiority of liberal democracy. Fukuyama employed a great variety of example from history, politics and philosophy to illustrate the observations on which his assumptions were founded, but as critics have evinced, there are as many events and trends which point into another or even contrary direction. On an abstract, philosophical level Fukuyama’s work offers interesting ideas and concept which are worth consideration for their own sake, but their reality and practical relevance for history and future of politics remain doubtful. The subjectivity of Fukuyama's views and interpretations often lead to the construction of castles in the air, so that Fukuyama himself and his critics were able to detect a number of fundamental weaknesses in his theses over the years, once more leaving the ”End of History" issue as open as ever.

7. Bibliography

Fukuyama, Francis: The End of History?. The National Interest No.16, Summer 1989.

Fukuyama, Francis: A Reply to my Critics. The National Interest No.18, Winter 1989/90.

Fukuyama, Francis: Das Ende der Geschichte. München: Kindler Verlag, 1992.

Fukuyama, Francis: Second Thoughts: The Last Man in a Bottle. The National Interest No.56, Summer 1999.

Fuller, Timothy: More Responses to Fukuyama. The National Interest No.17, Autumn 1989.

Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1992.

Orwell, George: Nineteen Eighty- Four. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1987.

Satter, David: More Responses to Fukuyama. The National Interest No.17, Autumn 1989.

Stove, David: More Responses to Fukuyama. The National Interest No.17, Autumn 1989.

Will, Frederick L: More Responses to Fukuyama. The National Interest No.17, Autumn 1989.

8. Internet Sources


Elections in Russia:


Falun Gong sect:



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Titel: Fukuyama and his Critics