Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winner of the "Oops! I Spoke Too Soon!" Award, Dr. Francis Fukuyama

"The distant origins of the present volume lie in an article entitled “The End of History?” which I wrote for the journal The National Interest in the summer of 1989. In it, I argued that a remarkable consensus concerning the legitimacy of liberal democracy as a system of government had emerged throughout the world over the past few years, as it conquered rival ideologies like hereditary monarchy, fascism, and most recently communism. More than that, however, I argued that liberal democracy may constitute the “end point of mankind’s ideological evolution” and the “final form of human government,” and as such constituted the “end of history.” That is, while earlier forms of government were characterized by grave defects and irrationalities that led to their eventual collapse, liberal democracy was arguably free from such fundamental internal contradictions" --Dr. Francis Fukuyama, in his introduction to his book, The End of History and the Last Man, 1992.

Yes, what a moron he was and is, but that's a given. Fukuyama's been spreading the love since 1992. Would he really know democracy if it bit him?

But even at that time, it was becoming obvious through developments of the successful Zapatista uprising, the subsequent rise of the "anti-globalization movement," the "Battle for Seattle," the rise of an unending proactive antiwar movement, new forms of resistance and theory arising throughout the globe to neoliberalism (notably in South America in the last decade where it has been rejected almost entirely), and so on, that Professor Fukuyama couldn't have been more wrong. He still is wrong, as is his wont, and he isn't going to be satisfied until he has no reputation left but that of a laughingstock. Mission accomplished--time to retire along with George Lucas.

Fukuyama was defending himself even when his book version of The End of History was released, with the author even going as far as to use Marx and Hegel as a shield in the above introduction. That they posited some "end-point" to human social and political evolution--the evolution of ideology--is well known. On this point, he's correct, and he shold have enjoyed being right, at least for once. Yet, Marx and Hegel were never so brazen, ignorant or insolent as to claim when that end-point time would actually come, and it's clear from their writings that it would probably take centuries, if not millennia. Never mind all that: someone's paying the bills, and it's good business to agree with oneself.

No, Marx and Hegel weren't being paid by a bunch of rich capitalists (although the factory owning Engels could fit into that category, he was headed in another direction...) to be one of the shrill voices during the fall of a global power (the Soviet Union) lauding the invincibility of another global player (American style economics, themselves). People like Limbaugh, Gingrich, and Fukumaya were drunk on their short-lived "victory" over the ending of the Cold War and their plans to take Capitol Hill "permanently," if not the White House. Sober minds in the Kremlin warned, ominously, that the United States would fall as a power after the Soviet system. They were right, and now we find ourselves where they were twenty years ago: Afghanistan. The warning signs have been flashing for decades, but never so brightly as now. But power is tone deaf.

As should be common currency by now, power corrupts, and that was the voice speaking from the well-fed yob of Fukuyama back in the 1980s-90s. His utterances in the present historical moment don't show any sign that he, his class (academic historians of all sorts), or those he serves, have lost any of their lust for power for its own sake. That he's looking like even more of an ribald ass now than he did at the time of 9/11 is a given. When you don't have the truth on your side, you resort to jargon and jingoism, and that's about all that Fukuyama and the so-called conservative side of the fence ever had besides the willingness to use barbarous violence to impose neoliberal/Reaganist capitalism on the rest of the world. You lie, rhetorically, throwing out the words "Liberty, Fraternity, Equality," and other myths regarding our way of life.

What does any of that have to do with "liberal democracy"? Nothing, it's just rhetoric on their part, and the new president surely shares many of their assumptions. But things have changed.

Now that America's dominance is slipping--most importantly, on the economic side--it appears that history is far from over, not even by a longshot. At best, Fukuyama's writings on whether the historical development of ideologies have ended are political-philosophical tracts written by a conservative hack on the payroll. In the future--if we're left with one thanks to people like them--they'll make for a very humorous read.

If you've actually ever read Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, you know that one of the central tenets of the book is that all nations have their time at the top, but that history deems there is a time when that dominance ends economically. Contrary to what many are saying, America doesn't have to suffer under this cycle--quite the contrary. Without all the unnecessary expenditures revolving around an empire, the average American will have lifted a very heavy lodestone from their neck. As a result of the ending of empire, illegitimate control over their lives by domestic elites will be severely weakened. The power structure in America is under serious threat, caused by their own hand.

What comes next is the groundswell of people demanding a better life, which isn't always a pretty or even tidy affair.

This is why we saw the passing of so much repressive legislation under Bush II and why most of it isn't going away anytime soon. Far from being a "coup," American elites are doing their best to hold onto power, and castles have a dramatic way of falling (watch your heads). History is over? Tell that to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and tell it to the average American solidier or military contractor on the ground. They might point to the dead and ask, "What's that?" Dr. Fukuyama should be taken on a tour of our torture and rendition facilities to ask inmates whether they think "history has ended," and he might also take a tour of South America today and ask the leaders of those nations whether they think history has ended.

He isn't likely to get a positive answer, but probably more than a few laughs at his expense again. Laughter is the summation of his legacy. Fukuyama realized this--belatedly--in his boring and lie-ridden October 4th, 2008 oped piece titled, "The End of America Inc.":
All this suggests that the Reagan era should have ended some time ago. It didn't partly because the Democratic Party failed to come up with convincing candidates and arguments, but also because of a particular aspect of America that makes our country very different from Europe. There, less-educated, working-class citizens vote reliably for socialist, communist and other left-learning parties, based on their economic interests. In the United States, they can swing either left or right. They were part of Roosevelt's grand Democratic coalition during the New Deal, a coalition that held through Lyndon Johnson's Great Society in the 1960s. But they started voting Republican during the Nixon and Reagan years, swung to Clinton in the 1990s, and returned to the Republican fold under George W. Bush. When they vote Republican, it's because cultural issues like religion, patriotism, family values and gun ownership trump economic ones. ("The End of America Inc.," Newsweek, 10.04.2008)
In other words, the right has used cultural flashpoints as phony issues to sway a healthy chunk of American workers away from servicing their own economic and political interests. Europeans tend towards the left because of centuries of struggle by the average person, two devastating world wars that made it clear that a lasting peace could only come through social justice, better educational systems and traditional systems and networks of resistance that have no analog in the US, and because there was an incredible loss of faith coming from the fall of the traditional monarchies after the wars of the 20th century. America has experienced little of this, partly due to how young it is as a nation. If it's broken, don't fix it.

Like America's business class, the Monarchies had used religion as a weapon to control the masses, and they fell. Again, America doesn't have the same historical experiences, but these things have a way of playing-out similarly, these all being human systems of social organization rather than ones from Mars or Jupiter. Once the Monarchies were delegitimized, religion fell into disfavor throughout many parts of the European Continent. It's quite possible that the same could happen here, and for similar reasons.

In the 1980s and 1990s, it was the job of people like Dr. Fukuyama to drive people away from working towards their own interests by deceiving them with false invocations of patriotism, religion, "family values," and sundry other Shibboleths. That no longer works when the system crashes under its own in-built paradoxes, and the public correctly moves towards the left (or, more accurately, away from authoritarian thinking) because it's natural to do so in the "correction" part of this historical cycle. If there are no corrections, there is no recovery, a word to the wise who are wishing very vocally that President Obama's economic stimulus plan fails--then what?

Ultimately, the only thing Fukuyama could do in the fall of 2008 was to finally start covering his ass, and to do it as substantially as he could manage. How sweet it was of Newsweek to pay him for his services rendered. He might want to convert it into non-perishable foodstuffs and gold. Do he and his ilk really believe in anything at all besides power? Unfortunately, yes. We might find that at the heart of Reaganism there always contained more than a hint of the death wish and nihilism, especially when power isn't achieved, is under serious threat, or is lost altogether. False conservativism's implicit logic can be found in the writings of Dr. Fukuyama, a logic that offers no future at all.

"The End of America Inc.," Newsweek, 10.04.2008: