Could the man who declared the end of history hold answers for the future?

Francis Fukuyama spent his life searching for the end, but the biggest question posed by his work is what comes next, writes Arjun Neil Alim

Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ concept is used as a byword for the mistaken triumphalism of western liberals after the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of communism
Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ concept is used as a byword for the mistaken triumphalism of western liberals after the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of communism

In watching the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history.” With this sentence began one of the most epoch-defining, polemic and misunderstood articles of the post-Cold War era. Political scientist Francis Fukuyama published his essay “The End of History?” in the American neoconservative bimonthly magazine The National Interest in the summer of 1989. Thirty-one years later, the debate on modernity and politics rages on.

How is history to end? If history is the evolution of humanity towards a universal state, as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel saw it, then history ends when it reaches a society that satisfies the ideals of Enlightenment philosophy. Since this thought was articulated at the University of Berlin in 1822, political thinkers have striven to interpret Hegel’s historical determinism and apply it to their own era.

Fukuyama’s essay, which he then republished as the book The End of History and the Last Man (1992), was an academic sensation, with scholars from Samuel Huntington to Jacques Derrida writing responses and commentaries. To this day, Fukuyama’s title is used as a byword for the mistaken triumphalism of western liberals after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in eastern Europe.

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