Skip to main content

Francis Fukuyama is right: Socialism is the only alternative to liberalism

In Liberalism and Its Discontents, Francis Fukuyama diagnoses the political and psychological malaise caused by capitalism. His analysis makes one thing clear: liberalism is incapable of addressing the social, economic, and ecological crises it faces.
  
by Samuel McIlhagga 

Part 2 - Intellectual Origins

The publication of The End of History and the Last Man coincided with the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, and the independence of various Soviet satellite states like Poland and Lithuania. Initially, all these post-Soviet states adopted liberal, democratic, and capitalist models of governance. Accordingly, Fukuyama became a both famous and somewhat misunderstood figure in academia — a prophet of the triumph of liberal democracy and the material inevitability of capitalism.

In the press, he was written about as a reverse Karl Marx. For those who had not read his book, the lesson to be taken from it was that history was over because American capitalism had won against the Soviet Union. Indeed, in the aftermath of 9/11, journalists, who had misunderstood the book, attempted to contact Fukuyama to ask if history had started again.

However, Fukuyama is distinct from the political-economic partisans of free trade and laissez-faire capitalism like Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman — men who defended the price mechanism as a more rational means of distributing and allocating resources. Instead, Fukuyama is a writer and political scientist deeply concerned with how humans, and their supposed transcendent psyches, operate within specific historical political, economic, and cultural systems.

Although he no longer identifies as a neoconservative, like many of that coterie, Fukuyama is deeply concerned with transhistorical and universal ideals. The failure of the Iraq War, a major neoconservative project that Fukuyama initially supported, seems to have pushed him away from the view that liberalism, democracy, and capitalism occur naturally if the ground is cleared by “well-intentioned” interventions.

Yet his political idealism still runs deep. Born in Chicago in 1952, Fukuyama’s family moved east to Manhattan. His family background contains academic, religious, and mercantile strains. Fukuyama’s paternal first-generation Japanese immigrant grandfather ran a hardware store on the West Coast, while his maternal grandfather was a prominent academic economist and university administrator at Kyoto University. His father was an academic sociologist and minister in the Congregational Church — a bastion of bourgeois liberal and puritan religious idealism. The emphasis Fukuyama places on democratic self-management, political-moral predestination, and individual autonomy within a liberal “priesthood of all believers” seems to be a secularized holdover of his Calvinism.

In 1970, Fukuyama started his undergraduate career at Cornell in classics: he is in many ways a classical political thinker. One can see the influence of ancient Greek political theory everywhere. For instance, Fukuyama takes an interest in the basic Aristotelian units of politics (monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy) and their relation to liberal modernity, and continues to use the Platonic theory of the soul (divided between reason (logos), spirit (thymos), and appetite (eros) to describe eternal human nature and its need for recognition. During his time at Cornell, Fukuyama fell in with the philosopher and classicist professor Allan Bloom, best known for his 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind, which criticized the practice of moral relativism and historical contextualism at American universities.

Bloom, who was taught by the philosophers Leo Strauss and Alexandre Kojève, introduced Fukuyama to an idealist intellectual tradition stretching back to Hegel. Strauss influenced the conservative academy with his Natural Right and History (1953), which argued for a transcendent and transhistorical set of naturally occurring rights that might provide politics with a moral compass.

Strauss’s followers in America developed an approach to interpreting political texts that emphasized perennial problems and the power of the authored text to independently generate meaning. Kojève was an unorthodox Marxist thinker, French economic administrator in the European Common Market, and neo-Hegelian who reintegrated the German philosopher’s thinking on history into contemporary politics. His 1946 Introduction to the Reading of Hegel proposed an earlier theory of the “end of history” that influenced Fukuyama’s own thesis. Kojève suggested that the rational Napoleonic Empire’s victory over the absolutist Prussian state at Jena in 1806 represented the apex of human political possibility: the parameters of all future political action were drawn by Napoleon at Jena.

After Cornell, Fukuyama spent time in a comparative literature program at Yale and studied under the post-structuralists Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida in Paris, before switching to political science at Harvard. While Fukuyama would become engaged with the empirical quantitative and qualitative study of hard-nosed foreign policy and international relations, he retained a deep interest in the text and human ideals, which he carried to the RAND Corporation, the State Department, and advisory roles under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

The success of his 1989 National Interest Article “The End of History?” resulted in a $600,000 advance to write a follow-up — The End of History and the Last Man. This pushed Fukuyama back into writing and academia, where he popularized the idealism of his intellectual precursors.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

UN says Israel is committing crimes against humanity & 'extermination' in Gaza

Geopolitical Economy Report   The United Nations Human Rights Council published a report that concluded that Israel has committed war crimes and "the crimes against humanity of extermination" in Gaza. Ben Norton analyzes the statements by UN legal experts.

Day 1900: Julian Assange still in prison and under slow-motion execution by the Anglo-American imperialist criminals

failed evolution   On 11 April 2019, the Ecuadorian government of traitor Lenin Moreno, invited the Metropolitan Police into the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and they arrested Julian Assange . Since then, Assange is kept in Belmarsh high security prison in London, without actual charges.   The real reason world's number one political prisoner is still kept in this high security prison, is because he exposed horrendous war crimes carried out by the US imperialists and their allies.   The ruthless Western imperialist regime wants to punish the No1 real journalist in the world and make him an example for any Whistleblower or real journalist who will attempt to expose its big crimes in the future.   And the Anglo-American axis has now become officially a fascist coalition , framed by the rest of its Western pets. UK's Home Secretary Priti Patel, one of the most ruthless ever, decided to extradite Julian Assange to US. No surprise of course. The only question we had in mind is

Exposed: How Biden & Ukraine’s Fascists Worked Together to Block Peace with Russia

BreakThrough News   Newly released treaty negotiation documents show that Ukraine and Russia were very close to ending the war—more than two years ago, in April 2022. But U.S. imperialists and NATO have worked with and strengthened the right-wing in Ukraine to achieve their long-term goals in the region, including endless war, no matter how many people die. Brian Becker is joined by Eugene Puryear, co-host of The Freedom Side , to discuss the newly revealed documents showing how the Ukraine war nearly ended two years ago but were sabotaged by the intervention of the White House and the Ukrainian far-right. They discuss how Ukraine’s economy has been totally mortgaged to U.S. and European interests. 

BlackRock & Wall Street banks are profiting from Israel's crimes in Gaza, UN says

Geopolitical Economy Report  Top UN human rights experts called on Western weapons corporations to stop sending arms to Israel, saying they could be complicit in war crimes. Asset managers like BlackRock and Wall Street banks are also profiting. Ben Norton looks at the evidence.

Socialism or Barbarism: What’s at Stake in this Election & Beyond

Double Down News   Roger Waters meets Fiona Lali. Fiona Lali is the independent candidate for Stratford & Bow.   https://www.fionalalircp.com 

Israeli documents show expansive government effort to shape US discourse around Gaza war

As the Gaza war rages, Israeli funds target US college campuses and push to redefine antisemitism in US law   by Lee Fang and Jack Poulson   Part 3 - Substantial Israeli government involvement in American politics   Haaretz and the New York Times recently revealed that Chikli’s ministry had tapped a public relations firm to secretly pressure American lawmakers. The firm used hundreds of fake accounts posting pro-Israel or anti-Muslim content on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and Instagram. (The diaspora affairs ministry denied involvement in the campaign, which reportedly provided about $2m to an Israeli firm for the social media posts.) But that effort is only one of many such campaigns coordinated by the ministry, which has received limited news coverage. The ministry of diaspora affairs and its partners compile weekly reports based on tips from pro-Israel US student groups, some of which receive funding from Israeli government sources . For example, Hillel International, a co-foun

A historical turning point has just occurred ... and it is not the Trump assassination attempt

globinfo freexchange   The biggest crime of our century, that is, the genocide of Palestinians by the Zionists has been almost forgotten. And while everyone is distracted by the war in Ukraine and the assassination attempt against Donald Trump, a development of historic proportions took place. The development either escaped from the corporate media radars in the West, or, deliberately ignored.   The integration of Russia's and India's payment systems marks the definite rejection of the Western SWIFT system, dominated by the US dollar, and the complete detachment of BRICS from this system.   As Kitco News reported recently:   The trend of de-dollarization continues to gain traction despite many analysts saying the threat is overblown as India and Russia have announced a new partnership that will see their respective payment systems – India’s RuPay and Russia’s MIR – integrated to allow for seamless cross-border transactions without the need for U.S. dollars.  The partner

Israeli documents show expansive government effort to shape US discourse around Gaza war

As the Gaza war rages, Israeli funds target US college campuses and push to redefine antisemitism in US law   by Lee Fang and Jack Poulson   Part 1 - Redefining antisemitism   Last November, just weeks into the war in Gaza, Amichai Chikli, a brash, 42-year-old Likud minister in the Israeli government, was called into the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to brief lawmakers on what could be done about rising anti-war protests from young people across the United States, especially at elite universities. “ I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now, that I think we should, especially in the United States, be on the offensive,” argued Chikli. Chikli has since led a targeted push to counter critics of Israel. The Guardian has uncovered evidence showing how Israel has relaunched a controversial entity as part of a broader public relations campaign to target US college campuses and redefine antisemitism in US law. Seconds after a smoke alarm subsided during the hearing, Chikli assured the l

Συνασπισμός προοδευτικών δυνάμεων με ηγέτη τον Γιάνη Βαρουφάκη

... για να γλιτώσει η χώρα μια και καλή από τη Μητσοτακική λαίλαπα   failed evolution   Η διάσπαση του κεντροαριστερού χώρου καλά κρατεί, όπως ακριβώς ήθελε η ντόπια ολιγαρχία.   Ο στόχος όμως της στρατηγικής ήττας ΣΥΡΙΖΑ και η επαναφορά ΠΑΣΟΚ στη θέση της αξιωματικής αντιπολίτευσης, απέτυχε και πάλι.  Απέτυχε και η απομάκρυνση Μητσοτάκη από την ηγεσία της ΝΔ και ύστερα από αυτό το Βατερλό στις ευρωεκλογές, οι ολιγάρχες θα πρέπει να είναι στα κάγκελα και να κάθονται σε αναμμένα κάρβουνα. Οπότε χρειάζονται νέα εναλλακτική. Επιχειρήθηκε άλλο σχέδιο, την τελευταία στιγμή και στο πόδι, με βάση το οποίο οι αποστάτες της ΝΕΑΡ θα πήγαιναν στο ΠΑΣΟΚ, έτσι ώστε το ΠΑΣΟΚ με τις έδρες τους, να έκλεβε και τη θέση της αξιωματικής αντιπολίτευσης από τον ΣΥΡΙΖΑ. Απλά, γρήγορα και εύκολα. Το σενάριο διαδόθηκε από καθεστωτικά φερέφωνα που προσπάθησαν να δημιουργήσουν το κατάλληλο κλίμα. Φαίνεται ότι, τουλάχιστον προς το παρόν, κάηκε γρήγορα. Επιχειρείται τώρα νέο σχέδιο με σύνθεση ΣΥΡΙΖΑ-ΠΑΣΟΚ και ε

De-dollarization is growing: Even the US Federal Reserve (reluctantly) admits it

Geopolitical Economy Report Countries around the world are seeking alternatives to the US dollar. IMF economists say de-dollarization is "broad-based". The Federal Reserve reluctantly admits that it is happening. Ben Norton analyzes the latest research.