On Fukuyama: Farce That’s Funny

No one has solved the problem of “creating culture”—that is, of regenerating internalized moral values—as a matter of public policy (292).

There will definitely will be more to say about Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man. We should, along with Sloterdijk, dismiss his “more or less intentional misreadings” of Hegel and Marx. We should not, however, dismiss his insight on the state of liberal-democracies. He argues that it is the best system—not the “least worst.” However, we know of several successful capitalist nations that have embraced capitalism while rejecting the export of Western democracy (e.g. China, Singapore, Saudi, etc.).

What is interesting about his argument is that he sees no “contradictions” within the existing liberal-democratic states; he sees “problems” that can be overcome within the system. The passage quoted is the unsolvable problem within liberal-democracy that is at the level of Hegelian contradiction. I do believe that, whether we like it or not, we have definitely reached a terminal point; in this sense, Fukuyama is right. However, the terminal point is not “the end of history” as he says it is, i.e. that we have reached the pinnacle of human political functioning with the triumph of global market capitalism over communism on one hand, and fascism on the other.

Instead, this terminal point is the inauguration of a permanent state of “contradiction.” Let us take, for example, the recent mayoral elections held in Toronto. The victor, Rob Ford, a Hegelian “Beautiful Soul” if ever there was one, had a slogan: “STOP THE GRAVY TRAIN.” It is obvious what the contradiction is: even while condemning other politicians’ “riding the gravy train”—he was definitely on it too. Of course, we know that he didn’t (ab)use resources like other City Councillors but the fact remains that he was on the same train with all the others. He subtracted himself from the overall state of corruption of which he is definitely a part; the political itself being nothing more than a regulated, bureaucratic form of corruption. In addition, the voters who voted for Ford add to the baffling state of contradiction: it could be called “the ideology of contradiction.”

There are certainly more obvious “contradictions” within liberal-democratic states: rich and poor, work and workers, atomization and community, etc. As these “contradictions” become more pronounced the failure(s) of liberal-democracy will also become more obvious. But this may not mean an immanent collapse of liberal-democratic states. If anything, our times indicate a move toward democracy-as-simulation—at least since President Bush was elected in 2000 and then re-elected in 2004. The appearance of democracy is increasingly more like a Moscow show trial than anything; like the recent municipal elections in Toronto: the cycle of binging and purging!


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