ABSTRACT

Two striking paradoxes have attended the end of the Cold War. Both are inscribed in Francis Fukuyama’s provocative and influential book The End of History and the Last Man which proposed, with a tip of the hat to Hegel, that the tearing down of the Berlin Wall marked the final victory of liberal democracy, ‘the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution’ and ‘the final form of human government’ (Fukuyama 1992:xi). The world court had met, the jury deliberated, and the vote was in. Fukuyama, who spent his days analysing states of socialist orientation for the RAND Corporation, saw in the popular overthrow of Communism a sort of developmental Geist-what he curiously refers to as ‘the Mechanism.’ The motor of history which keeps Fukuyama’s Mechanism firing on all cylinders is the coupling of the science of economic development with the ‘desire for recognition,’

a sort of impulse for freedom (thymos in his lexicon). Its apotheosis is, not surprisingly, the universalization of liberal democracy. Fukuyama’s grandiose, and in some sense Warrenite, conclusions that capitalism will bring everyone up to the current levels of material welfare of North Atlantic states and that liberal democracy is spreading like wildfire everywhere, do not deal terribly well with either the realities of global polarization that the World Bank Development Report scrupulously details for us every year or the small problem of devastating environmental ‘externalities,’ what Alain Lipietz characterized as the contemporary equivalent of the Great Plague (1989:43). He seems equally unconcerned either by the deep fractures which plague liberal democracies everywhere (Halliday 1991; P.Anderson 1992) or by his own admission that ‘social inequalities will remain even in the most perfect liberal societies’ (Fukuyama 1992:292).