18 June 2007

End Of History

I haven't read the book; I have only been reading about it. Since it came out in 1992 it has been hailed as a "post-Cold War classic", even by those who disagree with it and by those who like to think they have penned similar 'classics' (such as Samuel Huntington and Thomas Friedman).

My knowledge of the book till now rested only on the reviews I had read. All of them had merely talked about the central thesis of the book - that human history has come to an 'end', with democracy and free market as the supreme political and economic systems. Recently I read the essay that gave birth to the book and the introduction to the book. I was astounded to find out that the reviews had forgotten to mention a very basic point - that Fukuyama's entire argument rests on Hegel's theory of history. The good professor is a Hegelian!

I am still coming to terms with this. A book based on GWF's philosophy becomes a bestseller in America? Since when did German idealism become cool in the English speaking world?

Anyway, has history really come to an 'end'? I don't have the qualifications or the knowledge needed to tear this theory apart. Wiser men have done it. I would only say that it is arrogant and presumptuous to think we have ended history. Every generation must have felt the same way - that they had ended history by evolving the perfect political, economic and social systems, with no 'contradictions' left to 'resolve'. A man like Fukuyama would have written a book like this even if he had lived in 4th century Pataliputra, 7th century Xian or 19th century London. And yet, history keeps marching.

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