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November 08, 2007

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Michael Pimentel

While basking in the triumph of economic and political liberalism, Fukuyama seems to forget, so much of what has made liberal political philosophy wildly attractive. Of that which he ignores, perhaps the most egregious fault against the liberalism that he champions is his desire to silence anything that does not constitute a major shift in world ideology. As a whole, his argument sounds with all the arrogance that has come to typify the Western world’s mode of thinking. By that, I mean, he asserts the superiority of our current capitalist ideology and discounts views that he deems unsubstantial.

In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill writes, “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by collision with error.” Given Mill’s writing, which is inarguably one of the most important texts in support of political liberalism, it is curious as to why Fukuyama proclaims, “our task is not to answer exhaustively the challenges to liberalism promoted by every crackpot messiah around the world, but only those that are embodied in important social or political forces and movements, and which are therefore part of world history.” If we are to not consider those ideas that are radically different from our own, even if they come from “crackpot messiahs,” how are we ever to perfect this system which nearly all of us hold to be imperfect? We need not wait for huge shifts in ideological structures before we consider revising our system. Fukuyama’s stance, therefore, comes off as nothing more than a way to maintain our current order.
What Fukuyama suggests is not an understanding of our political transformation, but rather a crackpot religion. One whose sacred text exists only to further convince us of our own intellectual superiority. Above all, Fukuyama’s brand of political economic religiosity blinds us to fact that truths may exist outside our western consciousness, and promotes the ideological homogeneity that Mill was fearful of.
Furthermore, it is not because I oppose the expansion of capitalism or the outsourcing of democracy that I am critical of Fukuyama’s writing; I can assure you, I’m not pining for a resurgence of communist ideology. Rather, I’m a scathing critic of his discourse because of its blatant defamation of alternative modes of thinking, and his desire to marginalize anything that hasn’t been endorsed by mainstream civilizations.

With this said, have we in fact reached the end of history?
The answer is simple: if Fukuyama’s school of ideological hegemony is allowed to flourish, and remains unchecked by advances in technology (however dubious the last condition may be), then indeed we have.

Michael Pimentel

Basking in the triumph of economic and political liberalism, Fukuyama seems to forget, so much of what has made liberal political philosophy wildly attractive. Of that which he ignores, perhaps the most egregious fault against the liberalism that he champions is his desire to silence anything that does not constitute a major shift in world ideology. As a whole, his argument sounds with all the arrogance that has come to typify the Western world’s mode of thinking. By that, I mean, he asserts the superiority of our current capitalist ideology and discounts views that he deems unsubstantial.

In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill writes, “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by collision with error.” Given Mill’s writing, which is inarguably one of the most important texts in support of political liberalism, it is curious as to why Fukuyama proclaims, “our task is not to answer exhaustively the challenges to liberalism promoted by every crackpot messiah around the world, but only those that are embodied in important social or political forces and movements, and which are therefore part of world history.” If we are to not consider those ideas that are radically different from our own, even if they come from “crackpot messiahs,” how are we ever to perfect this system which nearly all of us hold to be imperfect? We need not wait for huge shifts in ideological structures before we consider revising our system.

What Fukuyama suggests is not the natural course of our political evolution, but rather a gutter religion; one whose sacred text exists only to further convince us of our own intellectual superiority. In it are words that espouse the rights of our ways, and the need for others to be just as we. Oh, how we’ve established “the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.” Thank goodness for the “common ideological heritage of mankind” that we’ve uncovered. Fukuyama’s brand of political economic religiosity blinds us to the truths that may exist outside our western consciousness, and serves only to promote the ideological homogeneity that Mill was fearful of.

Furthermore, it is not because I oppose the expansion of capitalism or the outsourcing of democracy that I am critical of Fukuyama’s writing; I can assure you, I’m not pining for a resurgence of communist ideology. Rather, I’m a scathing critic of his discourse because of its blatant defamation of alternative modes of thinking, and his desire to marginalize anything that hasn’t been endorsed by mainstream civilizations. Is he insane for suggesting the end of history? No, just arrogant.

With this said, have we in fact reached the end of history?
The answer is simple: if Fukuyama’s school of ideological hegemony is allowed to flourish, and remains unchecked by advances in technology (however dubious the last condition may be), then indeed we have.

Moreover, there can be no progress if we, like Fukuyama, arrogantly denounce the relevance of arguments that represent the views of diminutive groups. Although these views may not constitute the will of the masses, they certainly do not deserve to be brushed aside, stamped with the message “unfit to serve.” Our society is to be ever-evolving, moving across time toward perfection. “Crackpot” ideas no matter how seemingly unimportant or ridiculous they may appear, serve a greater purpose than Fukuyama, drowning in his self-righteousness, will ever admit; they serve as the gadfly that keeps us awake, free from the ideological tyranny of the majority.

Ada Tso

What struck me most about Francis Fukuyama’s piece was how extraordinarily myopic and brash he was. Making a statement as sweeping as there is “an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism” is extraordinarily arrogant; it echoes every other short-sighted victor who was too quick to judge his own success.

He claims that ideological struggles and motivations “will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands” But *not* everything boils down to economic calculation, and never will. His presumption that everyone makes totally rational decisions based on the economics is similar to Friedman’s similarly wrong ideas. Fukuyama, case in point, gets China completely wrong. Fukuyama sees the opening of China’s economy and its economics reforms as signs of eventual political liberalization. While it’s true that China today isn’t rabidly ideologically Communist, in many ways, it’s as controlling and oppressive as it was ten years ago.

Fukuyama’s conclusion is both sad and contradictory. He states that the boredom of the “post-historical period” perhaps “will serve to get history started once again.” His very acknowledgment of this possibility nullifies his declaration that this is indeed the end of history.

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